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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 2, 2015

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Bird records take flight; call for more volunteers goes out

Photographed in early May by a volunteer participating in the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Organizers are now looking for volunteers for the current effort. Photo credit: Marjorie Rhine

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Join a live online chat June 4 from noon to 1 p.m. to ask your questions about birds nesting in Wisconsin and how you can join a historic survey, largely by volunteers, to understand changes in the past 20 years in bird populations. On the day of the chat, go to and click on the image on the right or search "ask the experts." If you can't join at noon, read the transcript later at the same link.]

ASHLAND -- While volunteers helping survey Wisconsin birds have already lit up the record books before prime nesting season even begins, survey organizers are calling for more avid and interested birders to join the cause to provide the most comprehensive account yet of the birds that call Wisconsin home.

"Already, volunteers are setting new records for the atlas survey and changing what we know of the breeding bird landscape in Wisconsin," says Nick Anich, Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We've had some great findings so far. But there is still so much more to learn and we need more volunteers to help better our understanding of Wisconsin birds."

The survey, last done 20 years ago, helps assess whether populations of bird species that nest and raise their young in Wisconsin are increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. The results will shape bird conservation efforts over the coming generation. Read more in "A Historic Bird Survey," in the February 2015 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 5 photos

Bird survey yields rare finds and must-see photos

Volunteers have set new records for birds not documented in the previous atlas survey, including:

Volunteer opportunities beckon birders; new web feature showcases nesting songbirds

Kim Kreitinger, president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, one of the organizations behind the survey, says now is a great time to join the effort because the migration is winding down. Aside from shorebirds, most of the birds you see here in June and July are birds that nest in Wisconsin, so volunteers don't have to sort out which are migratory birds headed to or from Canadian nesting grounds.

"It's safe to assume that the vast amounts of songbirds you encounter are on their breeding territories. Understanding the places they frequent, the habitats they use and the times of year in which they raise young are critical to conserving them," Kreitinger says.

A new Breeding Birds and Summer Mothers feature on the DNR website showcases pictures of many of the breeding birds people will see this summer and also some that organizers are particularly keen on learning how they're faring since the first Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas was done in the 1990s. The web feature also contains links to, where people can learn about volunteer opportunities and find a link to the data entry portal.

Volunteers look for and document breeding behaviors of birds, everything ranging from a male singing a courtship song to a pair building a nest to a mother feeding her young. The survey seeks to confirm the presence and abundance of different species in every corner of the state.

Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory, one of the other sponsoring organizations, says that people can volunteer for the survey according to their desire, expertise and time. Birders who know a lot of species are encouraged to sign up to survey a 3 mile by 3 mile block of land. Birders can intensively survey their block over one breeding season or spread it out over the five years.

Birders with interest but less bird identification experience or less time are encouraged to turn in individual sightings of nesting birds they see while they are outdoors hiking, biking, camping, or even while sitting in their backyard.

"The second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas is critically important to help us understand how Wisconsin bird populations are changing," he says. "And, it is fun, and a great way to learn more about the natural world."

More than 1,600 people participated in that 1990s survey, and Mueller and other organizers hope more will get involved this time around. Volunteers can enter their data online using a customized atlas portal to eBird, a web-based reporting system many birders already use to keep track of their bird sightings and scientists use to harness the power of millions of birdwatchers worldwide. Such technology, along with advances in digital and smartphone cameras, also have made it easier and quicker to verify unusual observations.

In addition to WSO, DNR and the Great Lakes Western Bird and Bat Observatory, the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II is co-organized by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (exit DNR).

Real-time results available now for bird surveys statewide and in your area

The survey's use of a specialized online data entry system (exit DNR) allows volunteers, organizers and the general public to see real-time the results of the bird survey to date. Here are a few statistics as of June 1, 2015.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Nick Anich, 715-685-2930; Ryan Brady, 715-685-2933



Wisconsin Turkey Management Plan now available

MADISON - The Wisconsin Wild Turkey Management Plan, a product of coordination between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, key stakeholder groups and the public, is now final and available on the department's website.

People can view an electronic copy of the plan by searching the DNR website,, for keywords "turkey management." Hard copies will be made available upon request and free of charge later this summer at DNR offices statewide.

"The restoration of turkeys to Wisconsin's landscape is one of our greatest wildlife success stories, and the responsible management of the species is a goal shared by biologists, hunters and the general public," said DNR upland wildlife ecologist Scott Walter. "This Plan will serve as a wonderful resource for all aspects of the turkey management program, and we are very proud of the final product."

The Wild Turkey Management Plan will guide decisions regarding the allocation of turkey permits, the structure of our spring and fall hunting seasons, the use of Wild Turkey Stamp funds, and many other aspects of turkey management in the state through 2025. The current plan reflects recent scientific research and changes in turkey distribution and hunting tradition. The management plan was guided in part by input received at 12 meetings held statewide in April and May 2012, as well as an online survey available during the same time period.

The department would like to thank those who provided public comments, as well as the organizations with representatives serving on the DNR Turkey Advisory Committee, including:

"The Plan is a great read for anybody interested in how we manage turkeys in Wisconsin," said DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist Krista McGinley. "The contributions we received from stakeholders and the public were invaluable as we developed this revised management plan."

For more information regarding wild turkey management in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, for keywords "turkey management."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458



Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine recognizes 100 years of conservation aviation and more in a history-focused June issue

June 2015 WNR magazine

MADISON -- Two historical celebrations top Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine's list of stories in the June issue. Hop on board as the magazine takes a look at a Wisconsin project that spawned a nationwide movement in "Celebrating a half century of rail trails," and from a loftier vantage, "A centennial year for DNR aviation." "Back in the day" pays tribute to DNR's first unofficial pilot, Jack Vilas, who helped put Wisconsin in the forefront of forestry operations as the first flying fire ranger in the world.

Another historical piece tells the story of the 1939 discovery of Cave of the Mounds in "Where history and nature meet." The Brigham family, on whose property the cave was discovered more than 75 years ago, continues its devotion to preserving this land as a Wisconsin treasure to behold for future generations.

"And the winners are..." - a photo contest sponsored by Dane County's Four Lake Wildlife Center - reminds us to leave wildlife in the wild. Other wildlife stories explore the hidden language of the loon ("Loon language"), the success of local birders in bringing bluebirds back from the brink ("Bluebirds brought them together"), and an appreciation for a lowly rowboat on a quiet northern lake ("Simply fishing").

The creepy-crawlies are represented by "Jumping worms," a story about the disturbing spread of this new invasive to Wisconsin's forests. The buzz about Wisconsin's pollinators and their importance to our economy and landscape is the focus of "Bee aware," and "Peninsula State Park pollinators." "Mushrooms galore" gives advice for distinguishing which ephemeral delicacies from Wisconsin's third kingdom are safe to eat.

The magazine praises the efforts of citizen scientists in "Showing a passion for Wisconsin's wild places," and "Dive into the Secchi Dip-in." "Wisconsin, naturally" explores Inch Lake State Natural Area in Bayfield County, while "Wisconsin Traveler" promotes the new Horicon Marsh Explorium as a top-notch destination in all four seasons.

The June issue also includes an insert for helping kids discover Wisconsin's state symbols in "The symbol sleuths," and a brochure reminding us to "Keep wildlife wild."

WNR magazine also has an e-newsletter "Previews and Reviews" to keep our readers informed about upcoming stories and past articles. Sign up to receive the e-newsletter and other email updates by clicking on the email icon at the bottom of the DNR website to "subscribe to updates for DNR topics," and then entering an email address and selecting Wisconsin Natural Resources under the "publications" category.

(Under the Publications box, select Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine).

Not a subscriber? Here's what you are missing:

  • A 12-month calendar in December featuring Wisconsin State Parks
  • Our new "Previews and Reviews" e-newsletter
  • Special products like the upcoming insert, 2015 Fishing Forecast
  • As well as stories to keep you informed about Wisconsin natural resources issues
  • All included for the low price of $8.97 for a 1-year subscription.
  • Already a subscriber? Remember to consider Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine as a thoughtful and inexpensive gift that gives all year. Share what you value about the outdoors with family, friends, customers and professional colleagues. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Natasha Kassulke at (608) 261-8446.


    Read more: Previous Weekly News

    Last Revised: Tuesday, June 02, 2015

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