Contact(s): Ryan Brady; 715-685-2933; Kim Grveles, 608-264-8594
MADISON - May 13 is International Migratory Bird Day in North America and it's a great time for Wisconsin residents to get outside to enjoy these long-distance travelers and take steps around home to help them.
"International Migratory Bird Day is the perfect time to go birding," says Ryan Brady, a Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist who coordinates bird monitoring for the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "In our area, that's probably the overall peak of migration. You'll see the biggest number and variety of birds either returning to nest in Wisconsin or stopping to refuel as they make their way north to breeding grounds."
Warblers, orioles, thrushes, hummingbirds, tanagers, indigo buntings and shorebirds are among the favorite birds people are likely to see. But that's just the beginning: records dating back to the 1900s show that more than 350 different species of birds have been reported in Wisconsin in May.
International Migratory Bird Day focuses attention on birds' journey between their winter and summer homes, flights that can be thousands of miles long. The event is observed through bird festivals and bird walks and education programs.
This year, dozens of Bird City Wisconsin communities and birding groups, nature centers, state parks and others will host events. Bird City Wisconsin, an education and conservation organization modeled after Tree City USA, welcomed its 100th and 101st community into the fold this year as the nation's first organization of its kind and one of the largest. Participating communities hold an annual event marking International Migratory Bird Day. View Bird City's calendar to learn about events statewide; also find birding events at state parks and other properties on the DNR Get Outdoors calendar and check community, nature center and local birding club websites for other events.
Stopover habitat highlight in this year's celebration
This year, the IMBD celebration highlights the importance of stopover sites and their habitats, something bird conservation partners in Wisconsin have been working to enhance, says Kim Grveles, an avian ecologist who coordinates the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program.
"This year's theme of 'Helping Birds Along The Way' makes us aware that birds need good places for stopping over between flights and that we can provide those places - called 'stopover habitats' - in our own backyards," Grveles says. "When we replace mowed lawns and non-native ornamentals with native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, migratory birds will reward us with their presence as they seek shelter and replenish fat stores used up in long flights."
The Wisconsin Stopover Initiative was launched in 2005 by DNR and The Nature Conservancy in order to identify and protect the places where migratory birds stop while traveling between breeding and wintering grounds in the western Great Lakes basins of Wisconsin. Partners gathered data from experts and developed migratory bird stopover habitat models to use as tools for identifying key sites, and have been working in recent years with many agencies and organizations to protect and enhance those sites.
"Wisconsin organizations and individuals have really stepped up to increase stopover habitat in recent years but there is still more we can do together to benefit birds," Grveles says. "We invite people across the state to take time out to enjoy birds on International Migratory Bird Day and take a few steps to care for them."
Information about creating habitat for migratory birds and preventing bird collisions with windows, and decreasing other threats to birds can be found on the Wisconsin Stopover How You Can Help page.
Get weekly statewide birding reports and more bird news via email or text by subscribing now to the Birding and Bird Conservation updates compiled by DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation program staff.