LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.



 

CLOSE Close

Feature Tools



View all news contacts. All Contacts Close All Available Features

Owls are amazing!Get to Know Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond

Help birds, make 'em count

Have fun and contribute to bird conservation through these great opportunities.

Join the flock

Volunteer to observe and record bird nesting behaviors in a 3 x 3 mile block of land. Or, report such behaviors when you see them while enjoying the great outdoors. Your information will be included in the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II and help steer bird conservation for the next generation.

See a bird...Save a bird

Go birdwatching to raise funds for bird protection. During the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, collect pledges for finding and counting bird species during a 24-hour period of your choice. Count birds by yourself, organize a team or join guided trips. Proceeds go to the Wisconsin Bird Protection Fund.

Donate directly

Donating directly is an even easier way you can make a difference for birds in Wisconsin.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 9 photos

View the slideshow of owls who love Wisconsin.

Birds love Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a birder's paradise: More than 400 bird species have been recorded here, where the hardwood forests of the eastern U.S., the evergreen forests forests of the north, and the grasslands of the south and west all come together. The Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior add to the bird diversity, as does our location along a major migration pathway.

Wisconsin loves birds

Birds are an essential part of Wisconsin and we respect and celebrate our birds and other wildlife: fully 1 in 3 Wisconsin adults watch and identify birds at home and away - the second highest rate in the nation.

Birds are vital components of the natural world and in agriculture, helping control pests that damage the foods and natural resources we use every day. And birds are biological indicators -- bellwethers of changes in habitats and ecosystems - our "canaries in the coal mine."

Where to enjoy birds

Explore these resources to help you find the experience you're after.

How are our birds doing?

Healthy bird populations depend on healthy habit. In North America and in Wisconsin, many wetland birds are showing strong population gains and grassland bird populations are showing signs of improvement. Anecdotal information and smaller surveys, however, suggest that many species continue to decline and need serious attention. Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, environmental pollutants and environmental stressors are main factors affecting bird survival.

In Wisconsin, about 30 percent of our birds are listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need, meaning they have low and/or declining populations. That includes 11 birds formally listed as endangered species, and 13 as threatened species.

Help birds at your home

Take simple steps on your property to help our feathered friends -- plant native trees and shrubs, provide fresh water, put out feeders and more.

An adult great horned owl and its chick at home in a tree cavity
Photo credit: Lisa Richardson

Owls

Owls are amazing! More often heard than seen, these nocturnal birds are super predators. Learn more:

  • Six of the 19 owl species found in North America regularly nest in Wisconsin. Two more, the barn owl and the great gray owl, have historically been recorded here but quite rare. Snowy, boreal and northern hawk owls are occasional winter visitors.
  • The great gray owl is the tallest owl in Wisconsin and North America and has the largest wing span, up to 60 inches.
  • The smallest owl is the northern saw-whet, which tips the scales (barely) at 2 to 5 ounces. Saw-whets are most often seen during migration here on their way to their core nesting area in Canada's boreal forests.
  • Owls' eyes are fixed in their sockets, so their whole head moves as they shift their gaze. The necks of some species can turn up to 270 degrees.
  • Owls' large forward facing eyes give them the best stereoscopic vision of all birds, which is vital for judging distances.
  • Owls' ear openings are relatively huge and often asymmetrically positioned, which means sound is slightly delayed in reaching one and thus its source can be pinpointed. Some owls have prominent facial disks that funnel sound into their ears. These adaptations account for their incredible hearing.
  • Owls are efficient nighttime hunters that strike from above, and use their powerful talons to kill and carry animals several times heavier than themselves. Some owls are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk.
  • Owls often use nests built by other bird species. Tree cavities and dead trees, or snags, are other common nesting sites. Peek in on a great horned owl's nest in Georgia with this Cornell Lab of Ornithology live cam. (This site loads slowly but is usually worth the wait.)
  • Owls swallow their prey whole and later spit up a "pellet," a 1-2 inch hairball with bones and skulls in it, things the bird's stomach can't digest.
  • Owls are known as stealthy predators. They can fly inches from their prey without being detected. Check out the PBS video: Owl Shows Off Silent Flight Superpower.

More bird resources

The wealth of web resources make it easier to identify birds and learn more about them. Try these sites:

  • All About Birds,The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology's online guide to birds and birding
  • Wisconsin's Rare Birds, DNR's list of Threatened and Endangered Bird Species with links to factsheets.
  • Merlin Bird ID App, Download this free app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for instant bird identification help.