All-star birding teams take on 2016 Great Wisconsin Birdathon starting April 15

Eight “signature teams” to count birds and raise funds for Wisconsin bird conservation


For immediate release
April 12, 2016

Eight teams of hot-shot birders will fan out across Wisconsin in search of as many bird species as they can find during the fifth annual Great Wisconsin Birdathon, which starts April 15 and runs through June 15. The Great Wisconsin Birdathon, a project of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and partners, aims to raise $70,000 this year for bird conservation, with help from these “signature teams.”

“Our signature teams represent the best of Wisconsin’s birders, both in terms of their birding skills and in their passion for bird conservation,” said Diane Packett, coordinator of the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. “Some of these teams will go without sleep to spend 24 hours outdoors, hoping to break the state record of 230 birds found in a day. The donations that these teams raise play a crucial role in helping conserve our state’s rare and endangered birds.”

Through pledges and donations, the signature teams together aim to raise a total of $30,000. This year’s signature teams are:

  • Lake Superior eBirders (Ashland and Bayfield counties): Logging 161 species last year, all within 20 miles of Ashland, Lake Superior eBirders is the northern-most team and usually the latest team to complete its birdathon in the year. Team: Ryan Brady (Washburn), Nick Anich (Ashland) and Alex Lehner (Ashland)
  • Madison Green Team (Dane County): This team will travel by bike, foot and kayak in search of birds at the UW Arboretum, Dunn’s Marsh, Capital City Bike Trail, Lussier Heritage Center, Nine-Springs Wetlands, Lake Farm County Park, Lake Waubesa and Mud Lake. Team: Sumner Matteson (Madison) and Tod Highsmith (Madison)
  • Cutright’s Old Coots (Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac and Dodge counties): These old friends of Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame member Noel Cutright and current members of the Cutright Bird Club will apply their considerable collective birding skills in hotspots from Ozaukee County’s Lake Michigan shore to Horicon Marsh. Team: Carl Schwartz (Fox Point), Tom Uttech (Saukville), Marilyn Bontley (Bayside), Joan Sommer (Fredonia), and Mike Wanger (Milwaukee)
  • Curlew & Screech (Columbia, Dane, Iowa, Sauk, Richland, Grant and Crawford counties): Members of this team left their desks at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources a few years back and one of their retirement goals is to break the state record—their own record—of finding 230 bird species in one Big Day. Team: Randy Hoffman (Waunakee) and Al Shea (Sun Prairie)
  • Secretary Birds (Door County and Green Bay area): In 2015, two members of this team took on Curlew & Screech in a statewide, all-out Big Day. Their valiant effort prevailed in the fundraising column but fell short for bird species. They are back this year with a focus on Door County and surrounding areas. They are all involved in keeping records for the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, hence their team name. Team: Tom Prestby (Green Bay), Quentin Yoerger (Evansville) and Mark Korducki (New Berlin)
  • WSO Tessen Team (Green Lake, Marquette, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan counties): Coming in just behind the Old Coots with 163 species in 2015, these long-serving, award-winning members of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology will scour the White River Marsh and other bird haunts of Central Wisconsin to see if they can take the lead this year. Team: Tom Schultz (Green Lake), Wendy Schultz (Green Lake), Daryl Tessen (Appleton) and Jeff Baughman (Campbellsport)
  • MotMotley Crew (Dodge County): Bill routinely migrates to Nicaragua, Columbia and other parts of the world to help these countries create bird guides and other avian-related resources, then returns in the spring and devotes a day to scouring the Horicon Marsh for the Birdathon. Mary is the WSO development director and conservation committee member, and has been on several of the trips Bill has led. Team: Bill Volkert (Fond du Lac County), Mary Korkor (Hartland)
  • Lower Chippewa River Titmouseketeers (Eau Claire, Dunn and Buffalo counties): The Titmouseketeers have one of the best beats in the state—the amazing wildlife areas and state natural areas of the “Lower Chip.” Team: Bill Hogseth (Downsville), Steve Betchkal (Eau Claire) and Anne Geraghty (Eau Claire)

Interested individuals can support the signature teams of their choice by making a direct donation at Other birding enthusiasts can form their own teams and ask friends and family to donate or pledge a certain dollar amount for each species they find, even over the course of just a few hours in their own backyards.

Funds raised through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon benefit the Bird Protection Fund, which supports priority bird conservation projects and programs, including the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, Osa Conservation and whooping crane and Kirtland’s warbler recovery.

“The signature teams include the state’s most serious birders, but the Great Wisconsin Birdathon can be great fun for anyone, no matter the skill level,” said Ruth Oppedahl, executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. “Birding in your backyard for just a few hours is a wonderful way to learn about Wisconsin’s birds, while also taking action to help conserve them. See a bird, save a bird.”

The 2016 Great Wisconsin Birdathon partners are: The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Audubon Council, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and Bird City Wisconsin.

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Photo: Nick Anich of the Lake Superior eBirders gets a new vantage point on the birds in Ashland and Bayfield counties during the 2015 Great Wisconsin Birdathon. (Photo by Ryan Brady)

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin provides sustainable funding for Wisconsin’s most imperiled species and public lands, while helping citizens connect with our state’s unique natural places. This year marks the Foundation’s 30th year of boosting private sector support for Wisconsin’s public lands, waters and wildlife. Learn more at

Lindsay Renick Mayer
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
[email protected]
608-266-3138 (office)
202-422-4671 (cell)