Birders Flock to Bird City Summit

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on March 26th, 2014

Throughout the past year, I’ve developed more than a passing interest in birds and bird watching. My interest was piqued last spring when poor weather stalled a variety of migrating birds that happened to end up in my mother-in-law’s backyard, right here in Wausau.

I remember it well. It was cold, but my glove remained in a coat pocket so I could operate my camera. The little creatures were moving quickly amongst the trees and shrubs. I stood nearly motionless as I tried to capture their digital portraits. I was fascinated by the warblers and their beautiful plumage.

A pair of dickcissels; photo by Andy McGivern

A pair of dickcissels; photo by Andy McGivern

Since then, I’ve driven around the city and county, stopping to look for birds of interest. With the help of the Wausau Area Birders & Bird Watchers’ Facebook page, I was able to see my first-ever pair of dickcissels along a country road, just west of Wausau. This winter, I photographed a snowy owl – a rare sight for most people in these parts. A few weeks ago, I photographed a small flock of snow buntings. It was a first for me; I was pleased to add their images to my visual life list.

A snowy owl; photo by Andy McGivern

A snowy owl; photo by Andy McGivern

Three snow buntings; photo by Andy McGivern

Three snow buntings, seen while walking around the lake at Sunnyvale Park; photo by Andy McGivern

Bird City Wisconsin Summit, Oshkosh

Bird City Wisconsin Summit, Oshkosh

Last week, my colleagues Catie Anderson and Amy Beck and I attended the Bird City Wisconsin Summit, a two-day conference in Oshkosh that highlighted Wisconsin cities recognized for being “bird friendly.” The conference featured many interesting speakers and sessions focused on International Migratory Bird Day events, habitat conservation and preservation efforts, and practical information about how to attract and care for birds in your yard.

It was fun being with so many bird enthusiasts at a conference designed to encourage Wisconsin citizens to value birds and understand their importance to our communities.

Next year’s conference will be in Chippewa Falls, and I hope to attend. Who knows? Perhaps Wausau will have an opportunity to host this conference in the future. I’m sure participants would appreciate the high quality of indoor bird watching in the Woodson Art Museum‘s galleries.

Birds soon will return to this area as they migrate northward. I’m looking forward to seeing some of our old friends head back to their summer grounds. I’ll be certain to keep an eye out for the stealthy warblers. With luck and perseverance, I may even see a few birds for the first time; that will be a thrill.

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