(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging bird-watching enthusiasts to enjoy the miracle of migration and take some simple steps to help their fine-feathered friends.
“Millions of birds will be passing through Wisconsin in May, coming from as far away as Argentina and going as far as Alaska and the Arctic Ocean,” said Craig Thompson, DNR Program Integration Section Chief. “It’s nothing short of a miracle, and a great opportunity for people to get out to their local parks, state parks or natural areas to enjoy the spectacle.”
DNR states that more than 350 different species of birds have been reported in Wisconsin in May, providing a wealth of avian viewing opportunities that reflect Wisconsin’s location in the Mississippi River flyway and along the Great Lakes shorelines. Horicon Marsh, the world’s largest freshwater cattail marsh, and a diverse mix of other wetlands, grasslands and forests also provide key habitats for migratory birds.
Officials say that warblers, orioles, thrushes, hummingbirds, tanagers, indigo buntings, and shorebirds are among the favorite long-distance migratory birds residents are likely to see.
Birdwatch For Camaraderie And A Good Cause
As many new bird watchers have discovered, part of the fun is sharing sightings with family and friends and figuring out which bird species are showing up around the neighborhood.
Wisconsin DNR is now encouraging residents to enjoy that camaraderie and help a good cause by participating in the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, running now through June 15.
The annual event is hosted by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and is the largest fundraiser for bird conservation in the state. Last year, participants raised more than $104,000 for the Bird Protection Fund.
“We hope the Birdathon can serve as a reminder of the incredible strength we have when we come together with our communities to make a difference,” said Sarah Cameron, Great Wisconsin Birdathon Coordinator.
Feed Birds With Native Plants
The Department of Natural Resources reports that more than 90 Wisconsin communities are now recognized as Bird Cities for their conservation activities, including Greenfield and Wauwatosa for the first time this year.
“When we think of feeding birds, we should be thinking as much about native plants as we do bird seed, oranges, or sugar water,” said DNR Conservation Biologist Ryan Brady. “Native plants support the life cycles of 10 to 100 times more insect species than nonnative plants, insects that will attract and help birds more than any feeder will, especially from spring through fall.”
Wisconsin DNR states that the native bird populations need all the help they can get. Their populations in the U.S. and Canada have declined by 30%, or 2.9 billion birds, since 1970, according to a study by researchers from seven renowned organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution. A 2019 National Audubon Society study also revealed two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change, but Wisconsinites can help improve the chances for 76% of species at risk if they act now.