2023 Statewide Conference: Bringing Birds Back!
Despite the swirling snow that engulfed the Bringing Birds Back Conference, more than 130 participants left Oshkosh invigorated to help protect Wisconsin’s birds and ready to take action. With the shadow of three billion birds lost in the past fifty years hanging over bird conservation, we came out more hopeful after two days of listening, discussing, and connecting. Attendees are now armed with more knowledge, resources, collaborative opportunities, and strategies to bend the curve and increase bird habitat and populations.
LINKS TO CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE
LINKS TO RESOURCES RECOMMENDED BY SPEAKERS CAN BE FOUND HERE
WSO joined with the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership and Bird City Wisconsin for the first time to sponsor this conference after its long gap since 2018, bringing together many inspirational bird conservation supporters. SOS Save Our Songbirds (sponsored by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin) also launched their new campaign to influence birders and non-birders to support bird conservation efforts.
Common phrases and themes emerged over the two days. Bird conservation needs local champions to succeed—be one! Enlist every ally you and your network can find, including more than just birders and conservationists. You do not need to share the same motivations to build shared results that benefit all. Take a few small actions to start in any area where you are not already contributing: make one window in your house more bird-friendly, drink shade-grown coffee, plant a few more native plants (especially trees and shrubs). Find ways to move upstream to earlier decision-making points for use of land, design of buildings, and other activities that impact birds. Build it and the birds will come to a space with more native plants and no pesticides.
The conference took place at UW-Oshkosh in the Culver Family Welcome Center, which was a wonderful facility with great technology and large screens so it was easy for everyone to follow the great array of speakers. Mike Parr, the President of American Bird Conservancy, opened the conference with a wider view of what it means to support bird conservation with some examples from Ecuador. Bryan Lenz from ABC closed the convention with their great information on threats to birds and making windows more bird friendly.
In between, we heard from some local champions of Important Bird Areas and Bird Cities in Wisconsin. It takes many types of collaborators, large and small, to build successful programs to support bird conservation. They provided many great examples of how to do that in places and ways that matter for birds. To finish the day, Anita Carpenter took a group around the UW-Oshkosh campus to show off its bird-friendly and sustainability actions as well as its birds.
Saturday started with a bit of surprise as the expected light dusting turned into a heavy snowstorm centered over the Fox Valley that left over a foot of snow before the conference ended. Nearly all the intrepid attendees and speakers made it in, however, to hear the transporting talks on birds and blooms that left everyone itching to plant. From landscape design to Ryan Brady’s wildlife paradise up north, and plenty of points in between, participants heard many great tips and tricks for making their home habitats more bird friendly. We left with pledges from participants to act and work as local champions or take what steps they can. We look forward to hearing what they do, and what you do, in the coming year to make your world more bird friendly.