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ABC president to speak at Wisconsin conference

Evening Grosbeak
Once a birdfeeder favorite, Evening Grosbeaks have plummeted 92% across their North American range since 1970. In Wisconsin, they were found in 86% fewer survey blocks during the 2015-2019 Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II than 20 years earlier. Photo by Ryan Brady

Michael Parr, president of American Bird Conservancy, will deliver the keynote address at the Bringing Birds Back conference, slated for March 24-25 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Parr co-authored a landmark 2019 study that found 3 billion birds have vanished from North America since 1970 and the 2022 State of the Birds report assessing U.S. bird populations. He’ll discuss findings of the reports and international efforts to conserve birds.

“We’re excited about the amazing speakers we have both for national issues and for what we can do in Wisconsin,” says Jennifer Lazewski, executive director of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. “Birds live in many different habitats and have different needs. It’s important to have that big picture in mind even as you’re observing and learning about the birds in your neighborhood, or where you can drive to.”

The two-day conference will share the latest research on birds’ perilous situation and what’s being done internationally and in Wisconsin by conservation groups, communities, tribal nations, and individuals to save them.

Bringing Birds Back
Grassland birds like the Western Meadowlark have suffered the steepest population losses in North America over the last 50 years. In Wisconsin, the bird was found in 66% fewer survey areas during the 2015-19 Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II than 20 years earlier. Photo by Ryan Brady

Presentations on March 24 will highlight regional and community conservation efforts in Wisconsin, such as the statewide Important Bird Areas Program to identify and prioritize key bird habitat areas, the Southern Driftless Grasslands Project, Milwaukee County’s Natural Areas, Bird City Wisconsin, and bird conservation efforts by the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory.

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The lineup for March 25 includes a presentation on a collaborative effort to monitor birds responding to environmental restoration of Oneida Nation lands. Presenters will be Tony Kuchma, Oneida wetlands project manager, Language and Cultural Educator Tehahukótha (Randy) Cornelius, and Erin Giese, president of the Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society and acting director of UW-Green Bay Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, both partners in the monitoring project.

The conference then shifts gears to zero in on actions people can take at home, with sessions on landscaping with native plants to provide birds and pollinators food and shelter, and solutions for addressing reflective windows that can be deadly for birds.

The conference will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Culver Family Welcome Center, 625 Pearl Ave. Registration is open through March 6. The fee for the two-day event is $50 and includes lunch. Find the full schedule of presenters here. Register today as space is limited.

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“Birds are in trouble everywhere and they need our help now,” says Karen Etter Hale, chair of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership, a conference host along with Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and Bird City Wisconsin. “We hope this conference will be the special spark that gets each of us — wherever we may live — to take action to help birds. Together, our collective work as individuals, communities, or organizations will bring birds back.”

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