By Charles Hagner, Director, Bird City Wisconsin
Bird City Wisconsin is happy to announce the addition of four new members to its Steering Committee: Jeff Galligan, Richard Staffen, John Walch, and Jerry Ziegler. Each brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the program.
Jeff is a co-founder of the BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin and an administrator at Madison College, where he runs programming for high-promise students, including two TRIO Student Support Services grants and the Men of Excellence program, a retention-based program for Black and Latino males. He also is a Wisconsin Master Naturalist and serves on the board of directors of both Madison Audubon Society and Aldo Leopold Nature Center.
Rich is a zoologist/conservation biologist for Wisconsin DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, where he helps coordinate and perform inventory and monitoring projects focused on rare vertebrate animals. He is the eagle/Osprey survey coordinator for south-central and southwestern Wisconsin and a species expert for forest raptors and songbirds, plus other rare raptor species. He is well known for his work on the second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas and serves on the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group and the Wisconsin Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation Team.
John is a consultant with Sustainable Oceans International and a member of the board of directors of the Reef Ball Foundation and Bird City Algoma. He has taught Solomon Islanders how to culture corals; led a team to restore coral reefs damaged by the 2004 tsunami in Phuket, Thailand; planned and executed the first coral relocation project in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Saudi Arabia; led coral relocation in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; and worked in many other countries. He is also an accomplished wildlife photographer.
Jerry retired from the Nature Conservancy at the end of 2020, after serving as land manager for southeast Wisconsin for 13 years. Before that, he was the assistant copy desk chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and an assistant news editor at the Milwaukee Journal. He is a member of the Sierra Club and the Great Lakes Historical Society and former president of the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, and former board member of Wisconsin Lakes.
Jeff, Rich, John, and Jerry will join Dr. Bryan Lenz, Karen Etter Hale, Lucas Olson, Michael Reed, and Andrew Struck on the nine-member volunteer Steering Committee. The new members will attempt to fill the large shoes of Hilary Igl, of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and Bird City Wisconsin organizer Carl Schwartz, who are stepping off the committee.
Schwartz helped launched Bird City Wisconsin in 2010, was the program’s first director, and served as chair of its Steering Committee until March 2019, when he was succeeded in that role by Lenz, Bird City’s second director. Lenz is Glass Collision Program Manager at the American Bird Conservancy and director of Bird City Americas. Bird City’s current director is Charles Hagner.
By Ryan Brady, Conservation Biologist, Wisconsin DNR
Mid-November brought hundreds of Tundra Swans to traditional areas along the Mississippi River, Goose Pond in Columbia County, and the vicinity of Green Bay. Numbers build until ice cover forces them eastward to mid-Atlantic wintering grounds.
Other waterfowl are plentiful now as well, including a variety of divers and dabblers at most water bodies. Large numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers have been seen migrating south off the Lake Michigan shore, highlighted by more than 10,000 at Manitowoc on Nov. 12. Lake Michigan is also a great location for spotting Long-tailed Ducks and all three scoter species.
Open habitats now host Rough-legged Hawks by day and some Short-eared Owls at dusk and dawn. Look for Northern Shrikes and Snow Buntings in these areas as well. Golden Eagles have arrived in wintering areas in the Driftless Area of western Wisconsin. Bald Eagle numbers are increasing, too, as cold and snow begin to push them south out of Canada. Big flocks of Sandhill Cranes were reported from many agricultural and wetland areas, some migrating out of the state with recent northerly winds.
Perhaps the fall’s biggest bird news so far is an irruption of Evening Grosbeaks statewide and across the eastern United States. Flocks are unusually common across the North Woods, and some have reached such southern areas as Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. Grosbeaks were once common in the state, but populations have declined dramatically since the 1980s. Thanks to new outbreaks of spruce budworms -- a key summer food source -- in the Canadian boreal forest, the species has rebounded slightly in recent years. Look and listen for them at seeds, such as ash, boxelder and maple, or attract them to your yard with open platform feeders, sunflower seeds, and a water source.
Other winter finches, including Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Red Crossbills, and Pine Siskins, are moving into the North Woods slowly. Purple Finches and Red-breasted Nuthatches are showing well in the south, while Blue Jays are particularly numerous in the north this year. American Goldfinches are plentiful statewide.
Photo: Evening Grosbeak at Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Quebec, Canada, by Cephas via Wikimedia Commons.
By Tom Schultz
The 123rd Audubon Christmas Bird Count season is almost upon us. Hopefully birders everywhere will be flocking to participate!
This annual event is the longest-running citizen science project in our nation, and the accumulated data has provided bird researchers with vast amounts of information about population trends and distribution.
The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology helped to establish many of the more than 100 CBC circles in Wisconsin now coordinated each year by the National Audubon Society. Both WSO and Bird City Wisconsin strongly encourage conservation-minded individuals to participate in one or more counts. And we ALL can contribute -- as an individual, as a part of a field party, or by counting birds at feeders (providing you live within one of the count circles).
The important thing is to find out which count circles are located near you and then to contact the compiler for that area -- to express your interest in participating. You can do this on the Audubon CBC website.
The CBC period runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 each year.
A statewide conference is in the works to explore how Bird Cities and each of us, individually and as a community, can help bring back some of the three billion breeding birds our continent has lost since 1970.
Bird City Wisconsin is partnering with the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership and Wisconsin Society for Ornithology to plan a special two-day meeting. It will be held Friday and Saturday, March 24-25, 2023, at the Culver Family Welcome Center on the UW-Oshkosh campus.
There will be motivating talks and presentations on the latest in bird-conservation efforts already underway in Wisconsin and how you, your organization, and your community can join these projects or work on your own to make a difference.
There will also be plenty of time to network and interact one on one with equally committed conservationists. By working together, we can save Wisconsin’s birds.
So act now to save the date! More details will be coming your way soon.
Consider the falling leaves your sign that it’s time to start thinking about renewing. Renewals are due by January 31, 2023. As every year, the renewal process can be completed electronically, on the Bird City Wisconsin website.
To get started, log in using your email and password, click on APPLY/RENEW, and read the instructions. The renewal fee is $175, unchanged from last year. You can pay online with a credit card or mail us a check.
Some tips to keep in mind:
Form a team: Bird City Wisconsin is all about community action, not the efforts of a single person. If responsibility for preparing and submitting your community’s renewal is shouldered by one hard-working, long-suffering soul, we urge you to re-assemble the team that was involved with your community's application/renewal process (or create a new one) and divvy up the work. Many hands really do make light work.
Notes: Suggestions for improving your 2022 renewal application were emailed to you. Please use them!
Do more: If your community did the same things in 2022 that it did in 2021, that’s fine, but keep in mind that being a Bird City is intended to be an ongoing process. Your community should take new bird-friendly actions, satisfying additional recognition criteria, each year.
Resolution: We require all Bird Cities to submit a resolution celebrating World Migratory Bird Day every two years, but truly, what’s best for birds is for you to submit one every year. January will be here before you know it, so don’t wait. Now’s the time to prepare a resolution that your municipality’s council or board can vote on.
World, not International: And speaking of resolutions, please note that International Migratory Bird Day became World Migratory Bird Day in 2017. In your resolution, your application, and all other materials, the phrase “International Migratory Bird Day” should be “World Migratory Bird Day” and the abbreviation "IMBD," if you use it, should be "WMBD."
Questions: If you have questions or need help, write to the director of Bird City Wisconsin. He’d be happy to help.
Remember, renewing is how your community can be recognized publicly for the steps it has taken to be friendly to birds and healthy for people. It’s also a great way to let the world know that your hometown is a desirable place to work, live, take a vacation, and do some bird watching, and it signals that you want to be counted in Bird City’s statewide network of conservation advocates.