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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

If you're interested in birds, it's a good idea to learn more about snakes and other herps. © Wisconsin Herpetological Society
If you're interested in birds, it's a good idea to learn more about snakes and other herps. © Wisconsin Herpetological Society

April 2005

Wisconsin Traveler
Hawks and herps

This spring, take a closer look at snakes and birds.

Attention, all birders with bulky binoculars and books bursting at the bindings with blow-ups of bitterns, bald eagles and bluebirds! Yes, spring migration is upon us, and yes, your TRAVELER has listed a couple of ways you can participate in this extraordinary annual aerial event.

But, if you could ever so gently set down the scopes and life lists just for a day – Saturday, April 23 to be specific – and make your way to the Monona Community Center, you can enhance your knowledge of birds without flapping a wing. Spend a few hours at the Wisconsin Reptile Breeders Association's Spring Show and we guarantee you will never think of birds in the same way again.

Remember, the traits modern birds possess were acquired gradually over many millions of years of evolution. Those first birds...well, they had more in common with Godzilla than Tweety Pie. Serious birders wanting to know more about avian lineages should spend a day getting acquainted with reptilian relatives.

At the WRBA show, 20 breeders and herpetologists will be on hand to answer your questions about the hundreds of live reptiles and amphibians, a/k/a herptiles or "herps" on display. The organization is dedicated to conserving herps and protecting habitat around the state. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., 1011 Nichols Road, Monona, Dane County. $4 adults; $2 children. On the web: Wisconsin Herpetological Society

With the deep background you've amassed about the connection between birds and reptiles, you'll not want to embark on a spring birding outing without proper fortification. Enjoy Birds & Breakfast from 7:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 7 at the Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary & Arboretum in Kenosha – it's a hike to view the spring migration followed by a pancake-and-sausage feast. $5. Reservations: (262) 552-8196. Also on May 7th, you can set out at 6 a.m. for an Early Morning Bird Walk with experienced ornithologists at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle. Look for the 60 species that frequent the area; afterward enjoy a delicious continental breakfast. $10. Reservations: (262) 594-2922.

Lose your binocs in a battle over a canoe paddle with a frisky beaver last spring? No problem. Borrow some binoculars from the folks at Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee on Discovery Saturdays in May and see the spring bird migration up close. They'll even show you how to make your own "outdoor lookers." All ages welcome, 9 a.m. to noon. (414) 527-0232.

Other birding events you won't want to miss:

International Migratory Bird Day, May 8, Horicon Marsh: The height of Horicon's spring bird migration is a grand spectacle of flight. Watch from trails, boardwalks, and back roads. (920) 387-2658.

Mississippi River Flyway Birding Festival, May 13-15, OmniCenter, Onalaska: Take guided birding tours, canoe and kayak trips in the tri-state area, attend seminars, and enjoy entertainment. Learn about bird habitat and public and private bird conservation efforts in the Coulee Region. (608) 784-2992.

Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail: Five regional trails use existing roads and custom maps to guide the nature traveler to the best of Wisconsin's bird and wildlife watching areas. Learn more at Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail

Checklist of Wisconsin birds: The scorecard for every bird lover! Get your copy at Checklist of Wisconsin birds