Donors to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon have helped make important gains for Wisconsin birds in recent years. Chief among them is funding Bird City Wisconsin, the organization that spurred the Milwaukee Bucks to make their arena the first bird-friendly sports and entertainment arena in the world.
Bird City Wisconsin works to encourage communities throughout the state to implement bird-conservation practices. In 2015, it successfully approached the Bucks about incorporating bird-friendly measures in the design of their new arena.
As a result, Fiserv Forum, located in downtown Milwaukee near the shore of Lake Michigan, earned the Bird Collision Deterrence Credit from the U.S. Green Building Council as part of its LEED Green Building Certification. The credit reflected the stadium's minimal use of see-through glass and reduced use of lighting that can disorient migrating birds. Scientists estimate that upwards of 600 million birds die from building collisions in the U.S. and Canada every year.
Other important projects that will be funded by donations to the 2019 Great Wisconsin Birdathon include the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a comprehensive field survey that documents the distribution and abundance of birds breeding in Wisconsin; waterbird monitoring by the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory; work to re-establish an eastern migratory flock of Whooping Cranes; and efforts to increase the number of endangered Kirtland's Warblers.
New this year, funds raised through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon will also benefit endangered Piping Plovers by supporting work aimed at protecting and restoring breeding and nesting sites and creating additional breeding sites.
The Birdathon is organized and run by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Participants identify and record as many bird species as possible during part of a day between April 15 and June 15 and solicit pledges from family and friends. There is also a general fund to donate to if donors do not have a favorite team or birder registered.
Last year's Birdathon raised $88,000 for bird-conservation projects. This year's goal is $90,000.