More teams, more birds, and more funds raised for bird conservation!

Read on for highlights and results from this year’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon.

YesWePelican for 2023 Birdathon Report

Team Yes We Pelican!, representing the Feminist Bird Club Madison Chapter, participating in the 2023 Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Photo by Caitlyn Schuchhardt.

Wisconsin’s incredible birding community has done it again! This year’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon saw more than 500 birders come together to raise a record-breaking $122,162 to protect Wisconsin’s birds. These donations support the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin’s Bird Protection Fund, which supports Wisconsin’s highest-priority bird conservation projects.

Our birders, team captains, donors, and sponsors are the reason the Birdathon soars each year. We are grateful to our amazing “flock” for supporting our mission to bring birds back.

The 2023 Birdathon Report showcases some of the fun stories and successes of the 12th annual Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Enjoy these highlights from our amazing season together. Mark your calendars for the Birdathon to return next spring from April 15th through June 15th!

The Birdathon is a really lovely way for our bird club members to come together for a great cause! It’s become a yearly tradition that our members look forward to each spring.
2023 Birdathon participant

Whooping Crane reintroduction efforts are funded by NRF through the Bird Protection Fund. Photo: H. Thompson

The Connecticut warbler was our 2023 Bird of the Year as part of our efforts to raise awareness about this rapidly declining species. Photo by Dan Behm.

Announcing the 2023 Bird Protection Fund recipients

The Great Wisconsin Birdathon supports NRF’s Bird Protection Fund. The funds our birders raise protect Wisconsin’s threatened and endangered birds by creating and protecting habitat, supporting research and monitoring projects, and making bird education and outreach initiatives possible. The Bird Protection Fund Committee, made up of a group of Wisconsin bird conservation experts, helps determine where the funds will have the most positive impact on our birds. We are proud to share this year’s funding recipients:

  • Advancing Bird Conservation within Wisconsin’s Important Bird Area (IBA) System — Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership
  • Audubon Conservation Ranching — Audubon Great Lakes
  • Bird Conservation for All — BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin
  • Change is Hard: Making Bird-friendly Actions Easy in Lakeside Communities — Lake Michigan Bird Observatory
  • Grassland Expansion at Mounds View Grassland Preserve — The Prairie Enthusiasts
  • Lincoln Creek Habitat Research and Restoration — Nearby Nature
  • Long-term Bird Monitoring at Restoration Sites on the Oneida Nation Reservation — Northeast Wisconsin Audubon
  • Neotropical Flyways Project — SELVA
  • Piping Plover Conservation — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Taking Action to Save Birds — SOS Save Our Songbirds
  • Whooping Crane Reintroduction — International Crane Foundation

$26,000+ to Local Bird Conservation

Birdathon teams that represent nonprofits, bird clubs, and Wisconsin Bird Cities are also eligible to keep 50% of the funds they raise to support bird conservation projects at their own organizations. $26,842 of the 2023 Birdathon funds are going back to local communities – and of course, local birds! 34 of our teams are putting birding backpacks in libraries, building and installing nest boxes, funding bird tracking projects, putting binoculars in the hands of new birders, planting native plants, restoring habitat, and much, much more!

I’m thrilled to dedicate an entire day to do what I love most — birding — all while raising funds for bird conservation.

2023 Birdathon participant

Friendly Birding Competition

Not only did this year’s Birdathon break fundraising records, it helped grow the birding community, too. More than 500 birders made up 72 teams and spotted a record-breaking 274 bird species across Wisconsin! The Birdathon is for everyone: from classrooms and nonprofits, to friends and family, to Bird Cities and bird clubs. The following four teams were lucky enough to spot the Connecticut warbler, our 2023 Bird of the Year: River Raptors, WARBling Vireos, West High Whip-poor-wills, and WI BHA Bird Nerds. Not much is known about the Connecticut warbler due to its mysterious behavior and remote habitat. One of the 2022 Bird Protection Fund grants supported awareness and outreach of this rapidly declining species. Special congrats to those on our team leaderboards!
BIPOC Flock for 2023 Birdathon Report

The BIPOC Flock team, representing the BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin, in the 2023 Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Photo courtesy of Jeff Galligan.

Top Fundraisers

  1. Cutright’s Old Coots $26,219
  2. Lake Superior eBirders $10,024
  3. River Raptors $6,570
  4. The Motmot Crew $6,282
  5. Finch Gang $4,869

Most Species Seen

  1. WARBling Vireos: 208 species
  2. Good Godwits: 203 species
  3. MuirLand Merlins: 178 species
  4. Lake Superior eBirders: 164 species
  5. Driftless Birders: 158 species

Thank you to all our birders and donors for making the 2023 season another record-breaking success!

Funky Pheasants for 2023 Birdathon Report

Team Funky Pheasants, representing Pheasants Forever, in the 2023 Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Photo by Britta Petersen.

By Soumika Gaddameedi, Events and Donor Relations Coordinator (and coordinator of the Birdathon!)

Welcoming the 2024 Diversity in Conservation Internship Cohort

We are thrilled to announce our 2024 Cohort of the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program. This year, we are welcoming ten new interns!

Wing it with these tips for new birdwatchers

Wing it with these tips for new birdwatchers from Kim Kreitinger, our resident bird expert (and NRF’s Field Trips Coordinator)!

Welcome to the Foundation, Tee!

We’re thrilled to welcome our new volunteer, Tee Karki!

From PlayStation to Potawatomi State Park: How Camping Transformed My Life

Escuela Verde senior, Jonathan, led a three-day camping trip at Potawatomi State Park for 12 students thanks to a Go Outside Fund grant.

Watershed Health and Outdoor Fun on the Namekagon River

Thanks to a 2023 Go Outside Fund grant, 46 students canoe the Namekagon River for hands-on learning about watersheds.

Welcome to the Foundation, Brenna!

We’re thrilled to welcome our new Grant Writer, Brenna Holzhauer!

Snapshot Wisconsin Trail Cams Capture Rare Wildlife Interactions

Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras sometimes capture rare wildlife interactions. These photos support research on how different species coexist.

Welcome to the Foundation, Michaela!

We’re thrilled to welcome our new Executive Assistant, Michaela Daly.

Lights, Camera, Conservation

In her work at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Caitlin Williamson makes sure that the Wisconsin conservation show goes on.

Birding in the Northwoods

Hear from two of our Great Wisconsin Birdathon teams in northern Wisconsin to get a feel for birding in the Northwoods!