Elementary school students called on to welcome migratory birds back to Wisconsin

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Baltimore Oriole_Kelly Colgan Azar

As millions of brightly colored birds begin to make their way to Wisconsin from the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica this month, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Madison Audubon Society and Osa Conservation are asking Wisconsin’s elementary school students to join them in welcoming the birds back.

Wings2Wisconsin_logoThe campaign, Wings to Wisconsin, calls on Wisconsin students in kindergarten through fifth grade to write postcards to a specific migratory species, welcoming it back to the state and explaining the type of habitat Wisconsin has that the birds need and what the student is doing to help care for that habitat. Postcards must be postmarked by Friday, May 29, and will be featured on the three participating organizations’ websites and social media. Parents and teachers can download a postcard template and learn more about the campaign—and where to send the postcards—here.

“Migration is the most dangerous part of these birds’ lives and we want to celebrate their successful return, while also encouraging students to learn more about this amazing journey,” said Ruth Oppedahl, executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. The Foundation has provided more than $137,000 to the American Bird Conservancy and Friends of the Osa since 2009 to protect habitat on the Osa Peninsula that serves as corridors between existing protected areas.

The connection between Costa Rica and Wisconsin may not be obvious at first, but many of Wisconsin’s Neotropical migrants pass through Costa Rica, and 55 of the state’s breeding bird species migrate specifically to Costa Rica’s Osa Pensinsula for the winter. Both common Wisconsin birds such as the tree swallow, and rare migrants such as the state-endangered yellow-throated warbler share critical habitat in Central America and the Midwest. Local organizations like the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and Madison Audubon Society that work to protect habitat in Wisconsin are, in reality, part of a larger global conservation network.

“The work done by local groups to ensure that birds and wildlife have healthy habitats is work that spans thousands of miles,” said Emily Meier, communications and outreach coordinator for the Madison Audubon Society. “Volunteers and supporters of local conservation initiatives should know that their efforts have impact far beyond the borders of the state.”

In addition to the postcard campaign, the Natural Resources Foundation, Madison Audubon Society and Osa Conservation will be blogging about the Osa Peninsula, migratory birds and what Wisconsin residents can do to help on the WisConservation blog and Osa Conservation’s blog, and sharing additional information throughout the month on social media using the hashtag #Osa2Wi.

“As someone who grew up in northern forests, I will never forget how the return of winter migrant birds, many of them brilliant and singing exuberantly, added to the joy of spring,” said Adrian Forsyth, co-founder and board member of Osa Conservation. “The people of Costa Rica and Wisconsin work hard to ensure that these birds have both a winter and a summer home. Everyone, whether they live in a tropical jungle or in the farthest reaches of the North, benefits from the work that Osa Conservation and its Wisconsin partners are doing to protect song bird migration. ”

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Photo: The Baltimore oriole is one of 55 bird species that breeds in Wisconsin and winters on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. (Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar, via Flickr)

Lindsay Renick Mayer
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
[email protected]
608-266-3138 (office)
608-843-6669 (cell)

Emily Meier
Madison Audubon
[email protected]

Sarah Kozicki
Osa Conservation
[email protected]