ASHLAND, Wis. — With Wisconsin’s earliest nesting birds already tending to nests, organizers of a statewide breeding bird survey are looking to recruit new birders to their volunteer corps, gathering information that will guide bird conservation efforts for the next generation.
They’re inviting birders to report the activities of great horned owls, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, common ravens and other early nesting species, and to register now for the April 1-3 conference near Wausau that will kick off the second year of Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II.
“We’ve had tremendous volunteer response to the project in the first year, but with four years of field work remaining there is still much to be done. We need the help of all Wisconsin birders, whether far afield or in their own backyards” says Ryan Brady, science coordinator for the atlas survey and research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
More than 700 volunteers documented over 1.8 million birds of 229 species in the first year of the five-year survey to document breeding bird distribution and abundance. Brady and other organizers hope to grow their volunteer base to more than 1,000 participants in 2016.
“Our April kickoff meeting is a great way to learn more if you are new to the Atlas and a great way to get questions answered if you have already participated,” says William Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, one of the groups leading the Atlas effort.
“People will be able to fine-tune their knowledge in preparation for our second year of the survey.”
All birders welcome to participate
“Birders of all skill levels can participate in the Atlas,” says Nick Anich, lead coordinator of the atlas survey and conservation biologist with DNR. “To make sure everyone is up to speed, we offer online and live training sessions for birders new to the project, as well as field trip opportunities and symposium-style events like our upcoming season two kickoff conference.”
Even veteran birders see tremendous growth in their birding through participation in the survey, with many reporting the Atlas helped them “slow down” while birding and led to an increased awareness of bird behavior, song and habitat, Anich says.
Survey participants collect data by observing birds, noting the date and location, and entering their sightings online into an eBird database specially developed for the project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The records are then checked by a team of professional and volunteer ornithologists. When the project is completed the data will be published in a hard-copy book and online, and the dataset will be available for use by researchers, land managers, and others working to conserve birds and their habitats.
Attend the Season 2 Kickoff April 1-3
All new and returning atlas contributors are encouraged to attend the Season 2 Kickoff taking place April 1-3 at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in Rothschild, Wis. The weekend event will feature field trips, specialized training geared to both first-time and returning atlas contributors, tips from the experts, eBird workshops and more.
Advance registration is $25 and includes snacks and Saturday lunch, plus a complimentary Atlas travel mug or bottle. Advance registration must be completed by March 12, though walk-ins are welcome to attend the event for $35.
For a complete list of events and speakers, and full registration details, visitwsobirds.org/season-2-atlas-kickoff.
To learn more about how you can support or participate in the survey, visitwsobirds.org/atlas.
Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II is led by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, and DNR.