This webpage gives quick links to a number of bird monitoring opportunities for citizens in Wisconsin. Each survey has very specific survey goals and objectives and different requirements of the surveyor. WBCI encourages birders of all skill levels to get involved in one or more of these opportunities that match your skill level. Each link should contain a brief note on the skill level required of the surveyor.
This webpage is by no means exhaustive of all of the opportunities available to citizens. If you coordinate a bird monitoring program that you'd like listed here, please send the appropriate information to the survey coordinator, Ryan Brady, at email@example.com or 715-685-2933. Opportunities could include annual monitoring programs for species, properties, etc.
Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas Skill - any
The second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project is taking place statewide from 2015 to 2019. Volunteers are needed to survey pre-determined "blocks" or submit bird sightings and observations of breeding behavior from anywhere in the state. The project is a great way to give your birding a greater conservation purpose. For a map of survey blocks and details on how to sign up, visit the Atlas website here.
Christmas Bird Count Skill - any
More than 50,000 observers participate each year in this all-day census of early-winter bird populations. The results of their efforts are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas. To view historical data or read updates on national trends, explore the Audubon website above. To get involved in a count near you, see the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology website and search for a count or start your own!
Wisconsin eBird Skill - any
A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and
accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society,
eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial
and temporal scales.
eBird differs from many of the other programs for volunteers in that it is meant as a repository for birder observations on any day of the year at any place in the Western Hemisphere. There are a number of different protocols to choose from and all birders of any skill level are encouraged to participate. See the Wisconsin eBird site for information on recent bird related news/events or information on how to become a better citizen scientist. You can also click on the View and Explore Data tab to learn all about bird populations in Wisconsin or at discrete sites/counties within the state.
Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey Skill - any
The Bird Survey takes place each year during the second weekend in June. Everyone with an interest in birds and a desire for adventure is invited to participate in the Bird Survey. Volunteers work in small groups led by at least one expert in bird song identification. Computerized results are used to guide forest management policies and have been the subject of numerous scientific research articles and master's theses. Results also provide visitors with information about habitat preferences and "hot-spots" for northern Wisconsin's bird species.
Great Backyard Bird Count Skill - any
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It's free, fun, and easy - and it helps the birds.
Project FeederWatch Skill - any
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders coordinated by the Cornell Laboratory for Ornithology. Data generated from this project provide information on population trends, abundance, and distribution. Citizen scientists who periodically record birds from November to April at fixed feeder stations in backyards, nature centers, and other areas collect data throughout North America. Past results and analyses can be viewed online.
Federal Breeding Bird Survey Skill - high
The BBS is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the Canadian Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Research Centre to monitor the status and trends of North American bird populations. Following a rigorous protocol, BBS data are collected by thousands of dedicated participants along thousands of randomly established roadside routes throughout the continent. Professional BBS coordinators and data managers work closely with researchers and statisticians to compile and deliver these population data and population trend analyses on more than 400 bird species, for use by conservation managers, scientists, and the general public. Click on the link above to view and explore past data, sign up for a route, or explore some of the learning tools to become a better birder.
Annual Midwest Crane Count Skill - any
The Annual Midwest Crane Count is a tradition dating back to 1976. It is one of the largest citizen-based inventories in the world. One of the primary purposes of the Crane Count is to allow the International Crane Foundation (ICF) to monitor the abundance and distribution of Sandhill Cranes in the upper Midwest. Each year, more than 3,000 volunteer participants in more than 100 counties in five states observe at wetlands across the region from 5:30-7:30 a.m. on a Saturday in mid-April. Visit ICF's Crane Count website to see exact dates and learn how to get involved in this year's survey.
Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research Skill - any
The Buena Vista Grassland nest box program was started in 1968 by the well-known naturalist Frances Hamerstrom. Nearly 60 American kestrel nest boxes are monitored every 7-10 days, from May 1st to August 1st or until the last chick has fledged. Volunteers are invited to ride along, enjoying the many bird species found on the Buena Vista while helping to monitor these nest boxes. Throughout the season, we will be banding and collecting data from the birds, and volunteers will get a chance to see kestrel eggs, chicks and adults. If you are interested in joining us for a day, contact Janet and Amber Eschenbauch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-572-5727. See our website for more details.
The Milwaukee County Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership aims to assess habitat quality and changes in habitats for migratory birds within Milwaukee County, WI. The partnership's goals are to: (1) assess habitat use and quality in riparian and upland sites; 2) study habitat use by migratory species; and 3) train citizen-scientists to begin monitoring birds in Milwaukee and to work in conjunction with scientists on addressing urban ecology questions. Volunteers are needed to help with transect counts, banding operations, vegetation analysis, and data recording. To learn more or get involved, visit the MCAMMP website or contact project coordinator William P. Mueller, 414-698-9108.
Leopold - Pine Island Important Bird Area Survey Skill - moderate to experienced
The Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, WI needs moderate to experienced birders to help this spring/summer to re-survey the 15,000 acre Important Bird Area (IBA) located along the Wisconsin River. The IBA is home to over 100 species of breeding birds and unique habitats that provide exceptional bird-watching opportunities. A training session and distribution of resources and materials will be held early spring at a date still undetermined. Other birding opportunities include joining ALF staff in conducting Red-shouldered Hawk, amphibian, owl, marshbirds and woodcock surveys along designated routes within the IBA. These routes begin earlier in the season than the IBA survey and are a great way to get to know the organization and become familiar with the IBA before the re-survey commences. If interested in helping to survey the IBA or adopting a route, please contact Jen Simoni (608) 355-0279 x32 for details. Check out our website for more information on the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area.
LoonWatch's Annual Lakes Monitoring Program Skill - any
LoonWatch is recruiting volunteers to monitor lakes around Wisconsin as part of the Annual Lakes Monitoring Program. Volunteers earn the prestigious title of Loon Ranger by helping to record important loon events such as migration, nesting, and chick rearing on lakes they live on or frequently visit. Started in 1978, this program continues to establish a statewide reference for where loons are and how they are doing. For more information, see the website linked above or contact survey coordinator Stacy Craig, 715.682.1220.
Wintering Golden Eagle Survey Skill - any
The National Eagle Center has coordinated an annual survey of wintering Golden Eagles for the past six years. The 2010 survey will be conducted on January 16, 2010. Volunteers are needed to survey routes in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, and northeast Iowa. All skill levels are welcome and three optional training sessions are available prior to the survey. For more information and to sign-up, visit the survey's website or contact survey coordinator Scott Mehus.