Contact(s): Craig Thompson, NHC section chief, 608-785-1277 Diane Packett, Great Wisconsin Birdathon Coordinator, 920-219-2587
May 7, 2019
MILWAUKEE - Donors to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon have helped make important gains for Wisconsin birds in recent years including funding the organization that spurred the Milwaukee Bucks to make their arena the first bird-friendly sports and entertainment arena in the world.
Funding a comprehensive statewide survey of breeding birds, reintroduction of whooping cranes, and building populations of endangered piping plovers, terns and Kirtland's warblers are other important efforts made possible by Great Wisconsin Birdathon donors.
Now, Wisconsin bird lovers again can donate to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon as that walkathon style fundraiser gets underway and accepts online donations. Visit the Great Wisconsin Birdathon (exit DNR) to donate to a team, an individual or make a general donation.
"Surveys show that 55% of Wisconsin adults watch birds in their backyard and 39% travel to watch birds away from home. The Birdathon is a great way for people to help conserve the birds they love," says Drew Feldkirchner, who directs the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program.
The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a partner in the Birdathon, which is organized and run by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (exit DNR). Participants identify and record as many bird species as possible during part of a day between April 15 and June 15 and solicit pledges from family and friends. There is also a general fund to donate to if donors do not have a favorite team or birder registered.
Last year's Birdathon raised $88,000 for bird conservation projects, and this year's goal is $90,000, according to Diane Packett, Birdathon coordinator at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.
"Anyone who loves birds can participate or donate," says Packett. "You don't need to be an expert. You can spot birds while sitting out on your porch or walking your dog. It's a great way to get outside with friends, family, or co-workers and do something fun while giving back to Wisconsin."
Birdathon funds Bird City Wisconsin and bird restoration and research
Bird City Wisconsin, an organization that is funded by the Great Wisconsin Birdathon and works to encourage communities in Wisconsin to implement bird-conservation practices, successfully approached the Bucks in 2015 about incorporating bird-friendly measures in their design.
As a result, Fiserv Forum, located in downtown Milwaukee near the shore of Lake Michigan, earned the Bird Collision Deterrence Credit from the U.S. Green Building Council as part of its LEED Green Building Certification. The credit reflected the stadium's design considerations for minimizing see-through glass, as well as lighting that can disorient migrating birds and cause them to crash into buildings. Scientists estimate that upwards of 600 million birds die from building collisions in the U.S. and Canada every year, according to a March 31, 2019, story in Living Bird magazine (exit DNR).
Other bird projects funded by donations to the 2019 Great Wisconsin Birdathon will include many involving DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program, including the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a comprehensive field survey that documents the distribution and abundance of birds breeding in Wisconsin, efforts by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership to re-establish an eastern migratory flock of whooping cranes, and efforts to increase the number of endangered Kirtland's warblers. New this year, funds raised through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon also will go to help protect and restore current breeding and nesting sites, and create additional breeding sites, for endangered piping plovers.