Wisconsin Wildlife Update: Watching Out For Winter Wildlife

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
John W. Iwanski (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

As wildlife moves across the landscape this winter, there are great viewing opportunities, especially when driving. Larry Meiller finds out what to do and what not to do. Plus, learn about the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Survey.

Featured in this Show

  • State's Passion For Birding Played Big Role In Recent Population Survey, Say Ecologists

    Wisconsin, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison professor David Drake, has always been a state with a rich birding tradition: “We’ve had some phenomenal birders dating all the way back to Aldo Leopold,” he said Wednesday.

    And proof that the tradition is alive and well, Drake said, can be seen in the new Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas Survey — not only for the number of birds counted, but also for the volunteer bird counters.

    A collection of groups around the state coordinates the periodic survey to get a better idea of what birds exist in Wisconsin. The last survey wrapped up in 2000.

    While the recent work has turned up some interesting findings about Wisconsin birds, UW-Madison wildlife outreach specialist Jamie Nack said this year’s citizen participation has been arguably more notable.

    “The project itself is led by the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observation, WBCI — the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative and the Department of Natural Resources,” Nack said. “But it’s really driven or a success because of all those volunteers, so kudos to them.”

    This year, 700 people participated in the atlas survey effort, 23,900 checklists were submitted, over 2,600 atlas blocks were covered, and 1.7 million birds were totaled, Nack said.

    One of the most notable findings about the birds themselves was with regard to wild turkeys, which have seen a significant increase in range since the last survey.

    “Back then, they did not have many turkeys up in the northern third of the state. And now they’ve got turkeys almost through the entire state,” said Drake.

    There were also eight new species not seen in the last survey, two of which are endangered.

    “One is the whooping crane and the other is the Kirtland’s warbler. And both of those birds are native to Wisconsin, so it’s nice to see them back here,” Drake said.

    He added that the discoveries wouldn’t have been possible without volunteers: “I’m not sure that I’ve found more passionate birders than I have in Wisconsin,” he said.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Cheyenne Lentz Producer
  • David Drake Guest
  • Jamie Nack Guest

Related Stories