The Great Wisconsin Birdathon

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller finds out about this year’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon, and how to participate.

Featured in this Show

  • Counting Orioles A Great Way To Get Children Passionate About Birding

    The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is a wonderful way for anyone to both enjoying watching birds and raise funds for conservation efforts in Wisconsin.

    The Birdathon takes place throughout the month of May, and novice and expert birders can take part anywhere in the state. It is a joint effort between the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI).

    The Great Wisconsin Oriole Count is part of the Great Wisconsin Birdathon and provides an extra opportunity and incentive for getting young people involved.

    Carl Schwartz explained that the Oriole Count was inspired by the late Noel Cutright, who was a regular guest on the holiday bird programs on “The Larry Meiller Show.” Schwartz is the president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. He also serves on the Great Wisconsin Birdathon committee of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and is the coordinator for Bird City Wisconsin. He said that Cutright was committed to getting young people interested in birding, and so the Oriole Count is a great way to honor his memory.

    Why focus on Orioles? There are a lot of reasons. According to the All About Orioles fact sheet in the participant kit, “Wisconsin is an important place for orioles; 470,000 Baltimore orioles nest here!”

    In addition, Schwartz noted that “it’s an easily identifiable species. It’s a neo-tropical migrant, so it spends just its summers here and it winters far south of us in the tropics. So it’s a great way to teach about migration, conservation, bird identification, and field counting techniques.”

    Besides the educational value of the project, there is a concrete reward for participating as well. The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Eagle Optics and Wild Birds Unlimited in Mequon teamed up to offer several incentives. The first 60 Oriole Count teams to set up a team page will receive a free oriole feeder that attracts birds with both fresh oranges and grape jelly. In addition, two groups will each receive five pairs of binoculars, a spotting scope and tripod donated by Eagle Optics. Prizes will go to the team that raises the most money as well as a randomly selected team.

    Schwartz said he thinks the activity itself is worth doing, but also hopes that the prizes will “drive a few more schools, or teachers, or scouts, or 4-H or nature clubs to sign up and help us give away all 60 of those Oriole feeders.”

    Information and resources for taking part in the Great Wisconsin Oriole Count include a guide to counting, printable calendars for the kids, Oriole fact sheets and more. The deadline to be considered for a free feeder is April 30.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Carl Schwartz Guest
  • Andy Paulios Guest

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