Contact(s): Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation biologist, 715-685-2933 Ryan.Brady@wisconsin.gov
MADISON - The number of wildlife watchers increased 20 percent nationally from 2011 to 2016, with birds being their overwhelming favorite and most often observed at backyard feeders, according to a recently released federal outdoor recreation survey.
With winter weather setting in, now is the time for Wisconsin bird watchers to put out feeders and consider reporting the birds they observe, state bird experts say.
"Winter is a great time to watch birds and to contribute to bird science and management by reporting the birds you see at your feeder," says Ryan Brady, a Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and monitoring coordinator for the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.
Audubon's 119th Christmas Bird Count (exit DNR), conducted locally on one day between Dec. 14, 2018 through Saturday, January 5, 2019, is an easy and fun way to get started while Project Feederwatch (exit DNR) spans the entire winter.
Brady says that higher energy demands and fewer natural foods available to birds make winter feeding an opportunity to help birds and attract some species for closer viewing. He offers 10 top tips to help Wisconsin's fine- feathered friends this winter:
Nationally, 86 million adults reported wildlife watching in 2016 and spent $75.9 billion doing so, a 29 percent increase since 2011. That compares to 35.8 million adults who reported fishing in 2016 and 11.5 million who reported hunting, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (exit DNR).
More than 80 percent of wildlife watchers said they watched wildlife around home while 24 percent watched away from home. Birds were by far the most commonly watched wildlife, whether around home or away. The 2016 survey doesn't provide state level results but Wisconsin ranked second in the 2011 survey with the highest proportion of residents reporting watching birds.