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Warblers put a song in our heartsGet to Know Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond

Help birds and make 'em count

Love watching birds and want to keep them singing outside your window well into the future? Have fun and contribute to bird conservation through these great opportunities.

Help birds at your home

Plant native trees and shrubs, provide fresh water, put out feeders and take other simple steps to help birds. Learn more from the Wisconsin Bird Stopover Initiative.

Join the flock and survey birds

Join thousands of Wisconsin bird lovers in volunteering for the biggest bird survey ever in our state, the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II. Your information will help steer bird conservation for the next generation.

See a bird...Save a bird

Go birdwatching to raise funds for bird protection through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon.Collect pledges for identifying bird species during a 24-hour period of your choice, donate, or join guided Birdathon tours.

Every bird counts! - Count birds to raise funds for bird protection

Donate directly

Donating directly is an even easier and faster way to make a difference for birds in Wisconsin. Give to the Wisconsin Bird Protection fund, which is managed by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and provides funds for bird conservation projects identified as priorities by DNR and partners. Or give to benefit a single species.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 11 photos
The warblers are coming!

Birds love Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a birder's paradise, with more than 400 bird species recorded here. Our avian abundance traces to our location along a major migration pathway and at the crossroads of the hardwood forests of the eastern U.S., the evergreen forests of the north, and the grasslands of the south and west. The Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior add to bird diversity as well.

Wisconsin loves birds

Fully 1 in 3 Wisconsin adults report watching and identifying birds at home and away - the second highest rate in the nation. Beyond the pleasure watching them gives us, birds are a vital part of the natural world and agriculture, helping control insect pests. 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.

  • Birding and Bird Conservation: Find links to maps and driving routes for good bird watching, bird organization websites, and other resources.
  • Great Wisconsin Birdathon Birding Tours : Enjoy one-of-a-kind birding field trips ranging from several hours to two days with expert birders and raise money for bird protection at the same time.
  • Bird City Wisconsin Festivals: Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day, May 9, at a birding event at one of 91 Wisconsin communities recognized for their bird-friendly ways.

How are our birds doing?

Healthy bird populations depend on healthy habitat. In North America and Wisconsin, many wetland birds are showing strong gains and grassland bird populations are improving. Anecdotal information and smaller surveys, however, suggest many species need serious attention. Habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, environmental pollutants and environmental stressors are main factors affecting bird survival.

About one-third of Wisconsin's birds have low and/or declining populations, including 11 formally listed as endangered and 13 as threatened species.

Warbler - photo by Rachel Hopper

Wood Warblers

What do birders love most about these diminutive birds? Their bright colors? Melodic songs? Marathon migrations? Learn more about the warblers winging their way to Wisconsin this May.

  • There are 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada. Their distinctive songs and color patterns help tell them apart, but it's still easy to confuse them. Take a listen and a look via All About Birds.
  • Other identifying characteristics are the bright breeding plumage of the males, which changes seasonally. Females are less showy, their plumage more camouflaged to blend in with their nests.
  • Warblers nest in the U.S. and Canada and fly in the fall to their wintering grounds in Central America, the West Indies and South America.
  • What's on these songbirds' menu? Insects. These birds have narrow, straight bills - the better to catch their flying prey - and not the more conical nutcrackers and crossbills sported by the seedeaters.
  • Warblers are tiny: 3 to 4 inches long. A big warbler weighs in at well under an ounce.
  • Many warblers nest on the ground. Some of them lay colored eggs while most other birds lay white eggs.
  • Warblers are champion fliers. A recently reported study of blackpoll warblers outfitted with miniature backpack trackers found the warblers flew nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, more than 1,700 miles. It was one of the longest such recorded flights for a songbird.

More about our warblers

  • Wisconsin has more than 30 species of native warblers. They start arriving in late April to early May, and stop over in southern Wisconsin for several weeks before heading to the North woods to nest. They are found mostly in woodlands.
  • Because the quality of their winter habitat in Central America and South America is just as important as nesting habitat here, DNR and other Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative partners focus efforts in both places. Read more in "'Our' birds: Making a Costa Rican connection"
  • Stopover places are critical to help the tired and hungry birds rest up and refuel. Watch our video about warblers that found port in a storm aboard a DNR fishing boat.
  • The yellow-rumped warbler is one warbler that winters in the southern U.S. It is the earliest to arrive and the most common in Wisconsin.
  • The Kirtland's warbler is the most rare in Wisconsin. State and federal partners are working together to help boost Kirtland's populations in Wisconsin, hoping to backstop the main Michigan nesting population so the species isn't wiped out if disease or a catastrophic weather event strikes in Michigan.
  • A Kirtland's warbler hatched in Wisconsin in 2014 created a stir in April 2015 when it was sighted in the Bahamas. The sighting itself was rare; it also meant that the young bird survived a 1,500 mile flight, stirring hopes the bird will return to Wisconsin this summer and nest.
  • Wisconsin also plays an important role for the golden-winged warbler. About a quarter of the global population calls Wisconsin home during breeding season and populations have been declining for various reasons, including loss of habitat and expanding populations of its southern counterpart, the blue-winged warbler. Wisconsin, as part of the Golden-winged Warbler Working Group, is involved in efforts to stem the declines.

More bird resources

The Internet's made it much easier to identify birds and learn more about their biology, habitat, and life cycles, as well as to watch video of them and hear their calls and songs. Try these: