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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 June 10, 2020

Weekly birding report

Yellow warblers are a common summer species throughout Wisconsin. Listen for the males’ “sweet-sweet-sweet-I’m-so-sweet” song in moist habitats with shrubs and small trees. Photo by Ryan Brady.

Now well into June, migration season is just about over as the last of the cedar waxwings, common nighthawks, cuckoos, dickcissels, flycatchers, and other late migrants settle onto breeding territories. Straggling individuals remain possible, especially among the arctic shorebirds, which are notorious for moving north into mid-June. Indeed, birdwatchers reported very small numbers of various species this week, including white-rumped, semipalmated, pectoral, and least sandpiper, dunlin, sanderling, and ruddy turnstone, and American golden, black-bellied, and semipalmated plovers. Check sandy or rocky shorelines, flooded fields, and drying wetlands for these migrants and a few resident species as well.

Migrants aside, nesting season has taken hold of the birding scene. Many resident or early migrants are nearing the end of the breeding cycle already. Fledged young are now being reported statewide for trumpeter swan, wood duck, common loon, ruffed grouse, and various woodpeckers like downy and red-bellied. American robins and eastern bluebirds also have their first batch of fledglings, many soon to start a second brood. The majority of later migrants are likely on eggs now, with some still nest building and others perhaps with nestlings. Singing activity general peaks around early to mid-June as males establish and maintain territories.

The focus on singing, nest building, and incubation translates to reduced activity at bird feeders. Moreover, natural foods are abundant now and young birds generally require a diet of protein-rich insects instead of seeds. So while many birds are off nesting, now is a good time to reassess your feeding station, clean feeders with a 10% bleach solution, and offer a water source that will attract even more birds than a feeder throughout the summer months.

Rare birds spotted recently include black-bellied whistling duck in Milwaukee County, mountain bluebird in Taylor, prairie warbler in Adams, little blue herons in Dodge and Burnett, western grebe in Dunn, little gull in Manitowoc, glossy and white-faced ibises in Dodge, and summer tanager in Door. But the week’s biggest find was a sooty tern found injured in Dane following passage of tropical depression Cristobal, marking only the second ever of its species to be recorded in Wisconsin.

Believe it or not, the first southbound migrants – usually shorebirds and especially yellowlegs, solitary sandpipers, and least sandpipers – return to Wisconsin from Canada by July 1! Passerine (songbird) migration generally initiates in mid-late July such that by August, only two months from now, we’ll be in the thick of it all again. Look for our birding reports to become more frequent around that time. Until then, find out what others are seeing and report your finds www.ebird.org/wi. 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 June 11 2020