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March Hotspot of the Month–Tom Lawin Wildlife Area and Woodfords’ Ponds

Sandhill Crane Family at Tom Lawin Wildlife Area by Bruce Steger

For March, the randomly selected Wisconsin eBird Hotspot of the Month takes us to Chippewa County, where Bruce Steger provides a retrospective tour of the greater Tom Lawin Wildlife Area. The area described covers a 1.25 mile radius circle centered in the Tom Lawin Wildlife Area located less than 2 miles south-southeast of Jim Falls. It includes two different eBird hotspots and the adjacent Jim Falls sewage ponds that can also provide excellent shorebird viewing.

Reporting Sensitive Species in Wisconsin eBird

Kirtland's Warbler. Photo by Nick Anich.

We typically encourage eBirders to be accurate when reporting bird locations, however there are some cases when it might be best not to have detailed information on a bird sighting available to the general public. These instances include birds that can be very sensitive to disturbance, rare nesting species, or cases where birder pressure could cause negative effects. Read on to find out the best practices for dealing with these issues in Wisconsin.

February Hotspot of the Month—Milwaukee Lakeshore

North Point Sunrise by Paul Sparks

To the average person, the mention of a downtown metropolitan area doesn’t readily conjure up thoughts of bird diversity. But Milwaukee is fortunate to be in the middle of a major migration route with a Great Lake and some great parks at its doorstep, both of which are magnets for a wide variety of birds year-round. For February’s hotspot county, Milwaukee, Mike Wanger will take us on a tour of one of Wisconsin’s most popular birding destinations located on the Lake Michigan Flyway. This article will focus on sixteen birding hotspots occurring along a seven-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline in the downtown Milwaukee area. We’ll focus first on Lake Michigan, then move up the northern bluff to Lake Park. This article is designed for any birder who would like to bird this whole area systematically in a day or pick and choose the spots they deem most appealing.

Great Backyard Bird Count Identification Primer

Cover_photo_DOWO_HAWO same_Laura Erickson

With the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count right around the corner, the Wisconsin eBird team has been fielding many questions on bird identification of confusing species. Thanks to team members Sean Fitzgerald and Aaron Boone for putting together this great guide to separating many of the difficult pairs and groups.

Species on the move: White-winged Scoter & Red-necked Grebe

White-winged Scoter

Winter is not typically a season that we associate with bird migration. However, plenty of movement occurs during these cold, dark months, in particular irruptive and facultative movements. Although few irruptive species moved south this year (almost none, other than Snowy Owls), the winter of 2013-2014 has seen a parade of arctic systems move across North America, bringing cold temperatures well outside of recent averages. These have triggered facultative movements as species are literally frozen out of the north and eBirders are contributing greatly to our understanding of the species and patterns involved. In mid-January 2014, it became apparent that White-winged Scoter and Red-necked Grebe were on the move, popping up at lakes, rivers, and ponds in most of the eastern U.S. Some coastal areas also have seen a noticeable increase and it seems clear that the movements of these birds are directly connected to the higher-than-normal ice cover on the Great Lakes. To explore these movements more and better understand the connection to ice cover on the Great Lakes, please visit BirdCast.

January Hotspot of the Month-Wind Point (Lighthouse and Shoop Park)

Wind Point Lighthouse and Shoop Park by Rita Wiskowski

For January’s Wisconsin eBird Hotspot of the Month, Eric Howe takes us to Wind Point Lighthouse and Shoop Park in Racine County. Eric is a reviewer for Wisconsin eBird and a member of the board directors for the Racine/Kenosha area Hoy Audubon Society. He has been birding Wind Point for over 15 years. The Wind Point Lighthouse and Shoop Park are located at Wind Point in eastern Racine County along the shore of Lake Michigan. With its topography extending 1.5 miles further out into Lake Michigan than the remainder of Racine County, it tends to funnel migrants and boasts one of the most impressive species and rarities lists in the state.

2013 Wisconsin eBird—A Year in Review


In 2013, 3,494 birders submitted eBird Checklists in Wisconsin. Their efforts resulted in 1,145,019 observations, 86,542 checklists (about a 17% increase over the 74,126 Checklists in 2012) and 338 species.

More than ever before eBird is being used to monitor irruptions, migrations, and movements of rarities and vagrants on both continental and local scales.

December Hotspot of the Month–Pacwawong Flowage

Pacwawong Flowage by Ryan Brady

Sawyer County in northwest Wisconsin is the randomly selected Wisconsin eBird Hotspot of the Month for December 2013. While this county boasts a nice variety of habitats including boreal forests and deep lakes, it is sadly quite underbirded. Ted Keyel, one of the few birders in the state serious about his Sawyer county life list chose to profile Pacwawong Flowage for this month’s hotspot.

Another Snowy (Owl) Winter in Wisconsin

Snowy Owl

Few birds spark as much awe and excitement among even the most casual nature enthusiast as the Snowy Owl. Each winter brings a varying number of these arctic visitors to Wisconsin and the lower 48, leaving eager birders to wonder annually what each year will have in store. Well, to many birders’ delight, Snowies are [...]

eBirding your Christmas Bird Counts

Snowy Owl by Ryan Brady

December 14 will begin the 114th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, and the first big weekend of counts will be 15-16 December. The Christmas Count is the largest and longest-running ornithological citizen science project. Its data are a great complement to what we are collecting in eBird, and indeed the CBC has paved the way for eBird in many respects. It is not a problem to enter data in eBird and then submit it for the CBC too, since the two projects are collecting data in similar ways, but at different scales. eBird can be a great way to store your sector-level data and compare it from year to year.