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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 557 days

Volunteers needed for statewide breeding bird atlas

Published by Central Office June 7, 2016

Contact(s): Nick Anich, 715-685-2930; Ryan Brady, 715-685-2933

ASHLAND, Wis. - With birds building nests, incubating eggs, or training their offspring in the ways of the world, now is a great time for bird lovers to grab their binoculars and pitch in to help conserve Wisconsin birds by reporting birds building nests, raising young and engaged in other breeding activities.

Organizers of the statewide Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas survey are recruiting volunteers to help update information about what birds breed in Wisconsin and where, and they are conducting free field trips June 11-12 (both links exit DNR) in many locations to introduce people to the survey and its methods.

"Now is a prime time for people to get involved in the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas," says Ryan Brady, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources who leads the survey's science team. "We've cleared migration and tons of birds are back and building nests or are on nests so just about everything you see can be reported."

Aside from shorebirds, most of the birds seen in Wisconsin in June and July are birds that nest here, so volunteers don't have to sort out which are migratory birds headed to or from Canadian nesting grounds.


Northern saw-whets are reasonably common species in Wisconsin but very hard to detect because they're nocturnal. This sighting captured in video by Ryan Brady is only the third confirmation of the species in the atlas survey's first two years.
Video Credit: Ryan Brady

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas volunteers look for and document breeding behaviors of birds, everything ranging from a male singing a courtship song to a pair building a nest to a mother feeding her young. The survey seeks to confirm the presence and abundance of different species in every corner of the state.

Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory, one of the other sponsoring organizations, says that people can volunteer for the survey according to their desire, expertise and time.

Birders who can identify many species are encouraged to sign up to survey a 3 mile by 3 mile block of land. Birders can intensively survey their block over one breeding season or spread it out over the five years.

Birders with interest but less bird identification experience or less time are encouraged to turn in individual sightings of nesting birds they see while they are outdoors hiking, biking, camping, or even while sitting in their backyard.

Volunteers can enter their data online using a customized atlas portal to eBird, a web-based reporting system many birders already use to keep track of their bird sightings and scientists use to harness the power of millions of birdwatchers worldwide. Such technology, along with advances in digital and smartphone cameras, also have made it easier and quicker to verify unusual observations.

"The second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas is critically important to help us understand how Wisconsin bird populations are changing," Mueller says. "And, it is fun, and a great way to learn more about the natural world."

In addition to the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, DNR and the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory, the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II is co-organized by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (exit DNR).

Read more about the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas and learn why one of the youngest volunteers, 17-year-old Joshua Cullum, is participating in "Teen dives into comprehensive bird survey," in the June 2016 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Contact information

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James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773