By Caitlyn Schuchhardt
Natural Resources Foundation
Ahh, spring. April marks an exciting time as we greet the spring migrants we’ve missed so much. But mixed in among the sandhills, the shorebirds and the songbirds is another awaited arrival—the Great Wisconsin Birdathon! This annual event, sponsored by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, is the largest fundraiser for bird conservation in the state. Bird-enthusiasts across Wisconsin set out to see how many species they can find while raising money to support priority bird conservation projects.
If you’ve never Birdathon-ed before, you should know that the Great Wisconsin Birdathon is like a walk-a-thon, but instead of logging miles walked, teams log bird sightings. Teams can participate on any day of their choosing from April 15 to June 15 — which means that everyone can make the most of spring migration! All you need to do is register your team at www.WIBirdathon.org, start sharing your fundraising page with friends and family, and then … you guessed it, go birding! Nonprofit organizations have the option to form a team and keep half the funds they raise for their own cause.
Last year, the Birdathon raised over $104,000 for the Bird Protection Fund—a truly record-breaking year! That money went to support imperiled species in Wisconsin like Whooping Crane, Kirtland’s Warbler and Piping Plover—which is featured on this year’s Birdathon merchandise. This fun design was created by local artist and past Birdathon participant Brooke Weiland.
2021 Great Wisconsin Birdathon merchandise is already available.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, participation in last year’s Birdathon was higher than ever, with more than 65 teams participating—many of them comprised of WSO members. We saw immense creativity as teams adapted to pandemic restrictions. Some teams stayed close to home and found new love for their backyards, some split up to solo-bird at different hotspots before gathering virtually at the end of the day, and some turned the Birdathon into a household activity with parents and children birding together.
We were excited to draw in more new birders than ever and we want to keep up this record-breaking roll we’re on! We hope that you’ll join us in raising an additional $100,000+ for birds. The pandemic is still part of our lives, but the Birdathon can be a safe and socially-distanced activity to get you outside and exploring the wonders of our state.
Birds are for everybody and the Birdathon is too. There’s no experience necessary to participate—all you need is a love of birds! In fact, we invite you to show off your love of birds with some 2021 Birdathon gear. Get your gear, find your flock, and form a team today.