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Search
for a great birding site on the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail.
Report
a sick or dead bird.
Donate
to the Bird Protection Fund or form your own Birdathon team.
Contact information
For information on birding and bird conservation, contact:
Ryan Brady
Conservation Biologist
Natural Heritage Conservation
715-685-2933

Birding and bird conservation

Evening Grosbeak

Wisconsin ranks 2nd in the nation in percentage of residents who birdwatch, and it’s easy to see why as evening grosbeaks and hundreds of other species put on a show. Photo by Ryan Brady.

Wisconsin is home to over 300 species of birds and has thousands of people who enjoy birds. Explore the links below for information on birds, bird identification, birding locations and how to get involved in bird conservation efforts.

Birding report

Statewide Birding Report as of March 19, 2020

Weekly birding report

Waterfowl are putting on a show across southern Wisconsin right now, including diving ducks like the canvasbacks, redheads, scaup, and ring-necked ducks pictured here. Photo by Ryan Brady.

Southern Wisconsin saw a big surge in waterfowl at increasing amounts of open water this week. Duck diversity and abundance is now outstanding in many locations there, including both dabblers and divers like pintails, wigeons, shovelers, scaup, redheads, and more. Canvasbacks showed especially well, including counts over 1000 in Dane County, 600 in Jefferson, and thousands farther west on the Mississippi River. Over 200 redheads were tallied in Manitowoc, 400+ ruddy ducks in Rock, and 1200 American coots in Dane. Large numbers of Canada and greater white-fronted geese were seen, with a few snow, Ross’s, and cackling geese among them. Tundra swans are nearing peak numbers as they rest and refuel here en route from wintering areas on the Atlantic coast to arctic nesting grounds. Thousands were seen in ag fields from Columbia to Brown Counties, with good numbers along the Mississippi also. Other waterbird arrivals include American white pelican, common loon, blue-winged teal, and more great blue herons to rookeries and area wetlands. Sandhill cranes are showing in big numbers, including a count of over 1300 in Jefferson on March 17. Landbirds of note in the south include fox sparrows and rusty blackbirds, as well as the first trickle of tree swallows, eastern phoebes, and yellow-rumped warblers.

Up north, the first small wave of robins, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, ring-billed gulls, and American woodcock has arrived. More rough-legged hawks are being seen as snow depths decrease, while trumpeter swans, Canada geese, common goldeneye, and a few other waterfowl are prevalent. Wild turkeys were heard gobbling, and a count of 2400 herring gulls near Superior was quite impressive. American goldfinches are starting to molt into their bright yellow plumage, countered nicely by a few purple finches at area feeders. Migration of bald and golden eagles will likely peak over the week ahead, while diversity of most raptors will continue to increase into early April.

The week’s rarest bird was a western grebe that continues to be seen in Ozaukee’s Port Washington harbor, along with several red-throated loons and other waterbirds. Also of note was a belated report of a gray-crowned rosy-finch in Dodge on March 6, marking only the 6th state record. Expect plenty of new migrants this week from Sunday through Wednesday as a southerly flow of winds sets up through much of that time. Birding can be a great activity to practice while social distancing but be sure to take proper precautions. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology also recently offered a great list of online resources for learning about birds at home. Good birding!

– Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist

Find birds

Explore the information below to learn more about great birding places in Wisconsin.

Report a bird

Amateur birders have always been leaders in the field of citizen science. The links below provide a number of web-based tools that allow you to report and track your daily bird sightings. These data are used by DNR and conservation partners across the hemisphere to monitor migratory bird populations.

Bird ID and info

The links below provide useful tips in identifying birds as well as information on their biology, status and conservation in Wisconsin.

Get involved

See the links below for ways to get involved in birding and bird conservation efforts around the state.

Birdfeeder tips

Ten tips for winter bird feeding

Winter is a great time to feed the birds, as higher energy demands and fewer natural foods give us opportunity to bring some species closer to home.

  1. The single best seed to provide is black oil sunflower, which has high fat content and attracts the most species.
  2. Also offer nyjer (thistle) for finches, white millet for sparrows, doves, and other ground-feeding species both suet and peanut chunks for woodpeckers, chickadees nuthatches.
  3. Avoid generic seed mixes as these tend to have more waste and attract less desired bird and mammal species.
  4. Deter squirrels with cone- or dome-shaped baffles above hanging feeders or below pole-mounted feeders.
  5. Place feeders closer than 3 feet or farther than 30 feet from your home to avoid the deadliest window collision zone.
  6. Minimize disease by cleaning your feeders at least once every two weeks using soapy water and a 10% bleach solution.
  7. Provide cover such as brush piles or dense shrubs for roosting and escape from predators.
  8. Offer water to attract a wider variety of species, using a heating element when temperatures dip below freezing.
  9. “Birdscape” your property with native plants such as fruit-bearing shrubs and evergreen trees. Check out these birdscaping resources on the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative website [exit DNR].
  10. Contribute to bird science and management by reporting birds you see at your feeder. The Great Backyard Bird Count [exit DNR] every February is an easy, fun way to get started: for at least 15 minutes on one or more days you simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. Project Feederwatch [exit DNR] spans the entire winter.
Last revised: Thursday March 19 2020