How good of a birder do I need to be? – Volunteers do not need to be expert birders but they must be capable of identifying all 8 focal species by sight and sound (both song and call). Additionally, we ask that volunteers be familiar with those bird species that look and sound very similar to focal species.
Is there a study area near me? – We are conducting grassland bird surveys in 3 large landscapes within Wisconsin so there is probably a site near you. Click here to see where our study landscapes are located.
What equipment do I need? – We will provide all necessary equipment. However, we have a limited supply of some items (laser range finders, GPS units) so we are happy to accommodate volunteers who prefer to use their own equipment.
How do I know where my survey points are located? – Survey locations are randomly selected in advance. When possible, volunteers are allowed to select the set of points for which they will be responsible for surveying. Volunteers who do not select specific points will be assigned a set of points. Geographic coordinates for each survey location will be downloaded into a GPS unit for each volunteer so that they will be able to find the exact location where the survey should be conducted. It is essential that the survey be conducted at the randomly chosen point. As such, we strongly discourage volunteers from moving their survey point to be in a ‘birdier’ spot.
What does a typical morning of surveys consist of? – Surveys typically begin very early in the morning (as early as 30 minutes before sunrise). All field-based survey points are located at least 100 meters from the edge of the field so surveys should expect to have to do some light hiking to get to their points. In some cases this may involve crossing fences, wading through tall wet grass, or finding ways to cross ditches. Some landowner provide specific guidelines for accessing their property so it is essential to review any and all notes and to carefully follow the landowners directions. Once at a survey point, volunteers spend 10 minutes counting birds, collect a few simple habitat measurements and then proceed to the next point. Surveys can be conducted until 4 hours after sunrise. Volunteers are usually able to survey 4 to 6 points in a morning.
What is the Central Wisconsin Bird Blitz? – We are planning a major birding event for the weekend of 31 May – 2 June. During the course of this weekend, we hope to complete as many as 120 grassland bird surveys across central Wisconsin. Due to the large number of points that we will need to survey in one weekend, we will be recruiting volunteers from across the state to assist with this effort. Tentative plans for the weekend include camping at the ‘Marsh House’ in the Bueva Vista Wildlife Management Area, dining on meals prepared by grill-master Andy Paulios, and counting a lot of birds. More details will be posted as the event approaches.