The Bird Protection Fund

The Bird Protection Fund supports the highest priority conservation needs for Wisconsin’s birds throughout their lifecycle – from their breeding grounds in Wisconsin to their migratory habitat in Central and South America.

Projects supported by the Bird Protection Fund include conservation of Wisconsin’s most threatened and endangered bird species; creation and protection of critical breeding, stopover, and overwintering habitat; research and monitoring; and education and outreach.

Grantmaking Priorities:

  • Projects that directly address high priority conservation needs for Wisconsin’s birds.
  • Projects that align with state, regional, and national bird conservation plans and strategies.
  • Projects that leverage resources and partnerships.

How to Apply:

  • This program does not accept unsolicited proposals.

Current Projects:

  • Bird City Wisconsin: This program recognizes Wisconsin communities that are engaging in serious efforts to make communities more bird friendly. Partner: Bird City Wisconsin

  • Important Bird Areas Assessment Specialist: This contracted position is evaluating the status and condition of Wisconsin’s 93 Important Bird Areas, with the goal of identifying threats, opportunities, and potential partners to move forward with conservation efforts at these sites of known significance for Wisconsin’s birds. Partner: Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership

  • Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation: The Kirtland’s Warbler, a state endangered species, requires very specific habitat and has a restricted geographic range. The Bird Protection Fund supports nest monitoring and other critical research and habitat management activities to protect this rare species. Partner: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

  • Kirtland’s Warbler Endowment Fund: Funding from the Bird Protection Fund provided seed money to establish a revenue-generating endowment that will provide permanent financial support for Wisconsin’s populations of the state endangered Kirtland’s Warbler, a “conservation reliant” species dependent on human management to sustain and grow its population. Partner: American Bird Conservancy

  • Lake Michigan Waterbird Research and Monitoring: The Bird Protection Fund supports research and monitoring efforts via the Waterbird Watch program, which documents waterbird use along Lake Michigan and its shoreline to help inform future decisions that will impact Wisconsin’s migratory birds, such as offshore wind development, harvest quotas for waterfowl, and future management actions. Partner: Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

  • Neotropical Flyways Project: This expansive research effort seeks to identify critical migratory stopover regions and habitats in Central and South America. New stopover sites are being identified and mapped, and mist-netting and radio-tracking of birds are revealing how they use these sites. The results of these studies will be used to develop conservation plans for migratory stopover habitat, critical to saving migration for Wisconsin’s birds. Partners: SELVA and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

  • Piping Plover Conservation: This project aims to increase Wisconsin’s population of the federally endangered Piping Plover by monitoring current breeding populations, protecting breeding and nesting sites, artificially incubating eggs, and creating new nesting habitat. In 1948, only 1 pair of Piping Plovers was found in Wisconsin. Thanks to these efforts, 26 plover chicks fledged in 2019. Partner: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

  • Whooping Crane Reintroduction: Conservation partners are working hard to reintroduce the critically imperiled Whooping Crane, one of the rarest birds in North America. The Bird Protection Fund supports conservation efforts including monitoring the existing wild population, and raising and releasing captive chicks, with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining migratory population. Partner: International Crane Foundation

  • Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II: This comprehensive 5-year field survey completed by more than 2,000 volunteers will document birds breeding in Wisconsin, helping to inform conservation and management decisions for Wisconsin’s birds. Partner: Wisconsin Society for Ornithology


  • You can help us help the birds by making a donation to our Bird Protection Fund.
  • Consider making a gift to the Birds of Wisconsin Legacy Fund, an endowment fund that provides sustainable funding for priority projects of the Bird Protection Fund.
  • A majority of the funds raised through the Bird Protection Fund come from the Great Wisconsin Birdathon annual fundraising event. Help out by forming a team to count birds and raise money for bird conservation.

Bird Protection Fund passes the $1 million mark for Wisconsin bird conservation

[September 6, 2018] The Bird Protection Fund—a collaboration of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—has raised and distributed $1,014,566 for bird conservation since it was created in 2009. [DOWNLOAD FULL RELEASE]

Great Wisconsin Birdathon

Help raise support and awareness for birds by participating in, or donating to, the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. This annual walk-a-thon style fundraiser is fun, easy, and brings in tens of thousands of dollars for bird conservation every year.
Caitlin Williamson

Caitlin Williamson

Director of Conservation Programs

(608) 409-3109

Cait oversees the Foundation’s grant programs and initiatives for conservation and environmental education, ensuring that our investments are science-based, strategic, and impactful. Cait’s work encompasses conservation science and planning, partnership development and capacity building.