Grosbeaks Galore: Birds On Your Landscape Program

October 2011 Grosbeaks Galore Workshop Brings the Message Home*

Grosbeaks Alumni – what have they done to help birds? 
Read their personal stories on our Landowners Forum page!

“Event overall was exceptional -- very informative and inspiring”

Volunteers Rebecca Stetzer and Joan Sommer register participants at the workshop, photo by Kate Redmond

Beautiful fall colors and unseasonably mild weather added a special touch for the more than 130 people attending Grosbeaks Galore: Birds On Your Landscape Workshop at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve (FBMP) on Saturday, October 8, 2011.  Hosted by the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative, partners at the forefront of this event included the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (WGLBBO), the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

The audience learns How to Bring Nature Home from Dr. Tallamy’s special presentation on stewardship of private lands, photo by Kate Redmond

A very special presentation by the keynote speaker, Dr. Doug Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomologist and author of the book, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants, set the tone for the day.  Humor and a down-home style made it easy for folks to connect the dots between our penchant for manicured lawns with non-native ornamental plantings and the loss of diversity in native plants, insects, and predators such as birds that depend on insect prey.  His unique framing of issues brought a fresh perspective to familiar concepts.  For example, expansive, sweeping lawns were characterized as “McMansion Monoculture” and children’s disconnect from the outdoors was labeled “Nature Deficit Disorder”.  Through his colorful language and interesting slides, Dr. Tallamy inspired us to foster native habitat on our properties and to promote a sense of stewardship and an appreciation for the natural world among our neighbors. 

“Inspiring and funny…I wish ‘McMansion Monoculture’ folks would hear his (Dr. Tallamy’s) talk”

“…all the (morning) presentations fit together so well”

The air was electric as we moved on to the next speakers who brought an understanding of bird habitat needs during migration to the discussion.  Kim Grveles, WISI coordinator, presented, Stopover Ecology: Providing an Oasis for Birds, which defined the different types of stopover sites that birds use while traveling through the Great Lakes region.  If You Plant It, Who Will Come? Bird species that will use your native plantings was filled with practical information and expertly delivered by Vicki Piaskowski, author of the landowner manual How to Manage Your Land to Help Birds.

I really liked breaking things up with outdoor field trips, which... kept us awake”

Carl Schwartz talks about his Bird City Wisconsin program to a workshop participant, photo by Kate Redmond

After lunch and a visit to the many interesting exhibits, folks were able to stretch their legs by going on two of the five walking tours offered:  1) Restored Habitats at FBMP by Lesley Brotkowski of Cedarburg Science; 2) How to Identify and Control Invasive Plants by Kelly Kearns of WDNR; 3) Tips on Creating Your Own Bird Preserve at Home by Mariette Nowak with the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology; 4) Insect Plant Relationships by Kate Redmond, The Bug Lady, and 5) Habitat and Birds at FBMP by Joel Trick of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“…excellent work (by Craig)…vitally important and funny”

Not only did we keep folks awake, but we showered them with door prizes and made them laugh.  Even the title of WDNR land team leader Craig Thompson’s talk, delivered between the walking tours, brought on some hearty chuckles.  Knee Deep in Monkeys: Protecting Tropical Forests for Our Migratory Birds amusingly expressed the great need for Cheeseheads…er, Wisconsinites to support international conservation of tropical forests that are yet another link in the chain of habitats required for survival by our migratory birds.

Scott Diehl of the Wisconsin Humane Society describes methods for preventing bird-window collisions, photo by Kate Redmond

“Window collision and pesticide presentations (were) excellent –
helpful info that I’ll use and share”

Primate humor and the fresh air continued to sustain us as we journeyed on to explore factors that threaten birds during migration, the period of highest mortality for at least some species.  Bill Mueller of WGLBBO teamed up with Scott Diehl of Wisconsin Humane Society and WIngs to give us the low-down on pesticides, keeping cats indoors, bird collisions with anthropomorphic structures, and so much more.  Their wisdom and helpful tips were much appreciated by audience members.

“Very informative, interesting, well-timed.”

The many issues, thoughts, information, and expert tips about migratory birds and habitats absorbed in one jam-packed day was beautifully tied together when Noel Cutright of WGLBBO presented his talk Connecting Migrant Birds With The Landscape.  His big-picture look at the importance of the Great Lakes region to migrating birds gave us just the right context for our habitat work ahead and for knowing that every effort, big and small, will contribute to the certainty that these migrants will pass through our landscape again and again.

“Great story, told well – inspiring to go do something”

*Quotes in italics were submitted by workshop participants on their evaluation forms and may have been edited for conciseness and/or clarity.