Tell DOT: No Interstate Through Goose Pond Sanctuary

>> Read Madison Audubon's letter to Robert Knorr, DOT project manager <<

Scroll down to learn how you can help!

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is currently studying ways to relieve congestion in the I-39/90/94 corridor east and north of Madison. Three of the five options under
consideration would severely affect Goose Pond Sanctuary.

A shooting star at Goose Pond Sanctuary

A shooting star at Goose Pond Sanctuary

The most destructive options involve construction of a new section of interstate highwayrunning east of DeForest and Arlington, through Goose Pond Sanctuary at AnkenbrandtPrairie, and rejoining the existing interstate corridor near the Wisconsin River. In addition todestroying and fragmenting prairie habitat, including habitat for the endangered silphiumborer moth and other threatened grassland species, the new highway would bring noise, light,  air, and water pollution to the sanctuary, and would severely detract from public enjoyment ofone of our area’s premier birding hotspots.

While construction won’t begin until 2025 or later, a decision on a preferred option is expected by this summer. We are hopeful, for a variety of economic, social, and environmental reasons,  that DOT will elect to confine any capacity expansion to the existing interstate corridor ratherthan create a new roadway.  Nonetheless, to assure this outcome, it is crucial that everyonewho loves Goose Pond let DOT know that any new route through or near Goose Pond Sanctuary will pass through a minefield of public opposition.

What can you do to help?


Christmas Bird Count - MAS Chapter Results

Christmas Bird Count 2016 - MAS Chapter Results

Pardeeville Christmas Bird Counters Jane Considine (left) and Maddie Dumas (right) bundle up during their 2016 count.

Pardeeville Christmas Bird Counters Jane Considine (left) and Maddie Dumas (right) bundle up during their 2016 count.

For 117 years, birders have banded together to brave the cold, escape from the holiday madness, and count as many birds as possible in a day. Christmas Bird Count is a wrap for 2016, with 12 groups and 411 birders within Madison Audubon’s chapter lines reporting data on nearly 100,000 individual birds in a two-week time frame! Congratulations CBC coordinators and volunteers, for a great year!

CBC 2016 Results

Baraboo (coordinated by Scott Swengel) – Dec. 27 – 63 counters – 8,976 birds – 60 species. Rare finds: Wood duck, hooded merganser, golden eagle, eastern phoebe, Townsend’s solitaires, field sparrow. Download data here.

Clyde (coord: Steven Greb) – Dec. 28 – 14 counters – 4,268 birds – 54 species. Rare finds: Goldeneye, grackle, goshawk. Download data here.

Horicon Marsh (coord: Jeff Bahls) – Dec. 19 – 13 counters – 3,699 birds – 35 species.

Madison (coord: Aaron Stutz) – Dec. 17 – 120 counters – 26,000+ birds – 89 species. Rare finds: Pine warblers, summer tanager. Noteable misses: Ring-necked pheasant. Download data here.

Mount Horeb (coord: Kerry Beheler) – Jan. 1 – 55 counters – 8,019 birds – 54 species. Rare finds: sharp-shinned hawk, northern saw-whet owl, long-eared owl, fox sparrow, chipping sparrow. Noteable misses: Red-headed woodpeckers. Download data here.

Pardeeville (coord: Paul and Glenna Schwalbe) – Dec. 15 – 27 counters – 9,953 birds – 56 species. Rare finds: Gadwall, long-eared owl, white-crowned sparrow, ruffed grouse, ravens.

A pair of bald eagles spotted on the Poynette Christmas Bird Count. Photo by Maddie Dumas

A pair of bald eagles spotted on the Poynette Christmas Bird Count. Photo by Maddie Dumas

Poynette (coord: Mark Martin and Sue Foote-Martin) – Dec. 31 – 47 counters – 8.743 birds – 59 species. Rare finds: peregrine falcon, northern pintails, great blue heron, sharp-shinned hawk, belted kingfisher. Download summary here.

Randolph (coord: Jeff Bahls) – Dec. 21 – 9 counters -- 11,023 birds -- 31 species. Rare species: Brown thrasher, Eurasian collared dove. Download data here.

Richland Center (coord: Robert Hirschy) – Dec. 18 – 30 counters – 7,209 birds – 34 species. Rare finds: American pipit, Carolina wren, white-crowned sparrow, Lapland longspurs. Download data here.

Waterloo (coord: Karen Etter Hale) – Dec. 19 – 33 counters – 8,878 birds – 49 species. Rare finds: Wood duck, short-eared owl. Download summary here.


Columbus and Sauk City data not available

Apply for a Restoration Ecology Internship with Madison Audubon!

We are hiring for two teams of Restoration Ecology interns for next summer! Want to get your hands dirty, learn about local prairies and wildlife, and see some of the most beautiful (and endangered) landscapes around -- all while making an income and building your resume?

Check out the job announcement here. Applications are due Monday, February 6, 2017.

The Restoration Ecology Interns spend much of their time on our two sanctuaries, Faville Grove (top right) and Goose Pond (bottom right), as well as other locations. Michigan lilies (left; photo by Roger Packard) are just one of the many beautiful species interns will work with during the internship.

The Restoration Ecology Interns spend much of their time on our two sanctuaries, Faville Grove (top right) and Goose Pond (bottom right), as well as other locations. Michigan lilies (left; photo by Roger Packard) are just one of the many beautiful species interns will work with during the internship.

Coordinated by Madison Audubon Society, in partnership with Friends of Lakeshore Nature Preserve, The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Natural Heritage Land Trust, Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy, and the UW Arboretum

Prairies of Southern Wisconsin to feature Goose Pond Sanctuary in Photography Exhibit.

Photography by Rich Armstrong, featuring Goose Pond

Photography by Rich Armstrong, featuring Goose Pond

What: Photography Exhibit

Where: Fitchburg Library, 5530 Lacy Road, Fitchburg, WI

When: November 28-December 28, 2016  

"Land extreemly fertile;  consisting of a happy mixture of praries and groves, exhibiting one of the most beautifull and picteresk seens that I ever beheld."    Meriwether Lewis

Prairies have meant different things to different peoples throughout their existence.  To the native peoples of the plains, prairies were the wellspring of their way of life,  following the immense herds of bison that were at the center of that existence - both brought to near extinction by the advent of a new wave of immigrants.  To these new immigrants the prairies were either a scourge to travel towards lands further west , or a plague to plow in order to reach the incredibly black and rich soil lying beneath.  Soil, that after much abuse, was then simply blown towards the Atlantic Ocean during the Dust Bowl.  Most of what was once prairie has now become a monoculture of corn and soy, grown mostly for the immense livestock industry that feeds a growing world population.  Less than 5% of the original tall-grass prairie still exists, and in Wisconsin, it is less than 1% that has survived the plow.

So, is the prairie doomed?  Thankfully, there has been a relatively recent resurgence of interest in the preservation and restoration of former prairie lands through the efforts of private, public, governmental, and environmental groups.  The sight that Meriwether Lewis and all the previous inhabitants saw is something none of us will ever see again.  But through the efforts of all the people involved in its preservation and restorations, perhaps we can get a glimpse of the majesty that once existed.  And for that we should all be grateful and give thanks to all those involved.  And even though these fragments are small in comparison, we can still see far if we only look close.

The photographers of this exhibit all share a passion for the natural world.  It is our hope that the photographs in this exhibit convey the same sense of wonder to you as we felt when composing them.  We also hope that these photographs will inspire you to visit a prairie, either natural or restored.  And, equally important, to inspire within you a commitment towards their preservation.  We hope that you enjoy this exhibit and we thank you for your time in viewing it.

The Photographers:  

Rich Armstrong-

Bob Jaeger-

Don Julie

Tom Klingele-  

Update: MAS continues to advocate for the appropriate use of the SPRA land

Madison Audubon has been working extensively with the DNR to create a master plan for the appropriate use of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (SPRA). The SPRA was founded in deep historic roots. Over the years, the land was cultivated for various activities. Currently, Madison Audubon is working with the DNR to utilize this land for conservation purposes. The idea is to provide a natural habitat for various bird and wildlife species. In order to fullfill this vision, we're trying to reach a mutual agreement on the best practices for the land. Please read our latest report to the DNR: November 28th Report: Advocacy Letter

To view the full revised Master Plan: Sauk Prairie Recreation Area Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (draft) 

If you're interested in becoming an advocate, the Natural Resources Board will be meeting at December 14, 2016 in Madison: DNR Board Meeting Info

Photography by DNR

Photography by DNR

MAS Board Nominees Selected

Madison Audubon members recently approved changes to the MAS bylaws to allow for a larger board of directors, which expands the board from nine to 12 directors in 2017. A six-member nominating committee has considered the many candidates you have suggested and has recommended a slate of six outstanding candidates, which the board has approved, to fill three expiring positions and three new positions.

The slate currently includes directors Galen Hasler, Joanne Jones, and Jim Shurts, and new director candidates Pat Eagan, Dave Rihn, and John Shillinglaw. Candidate statements are below.

Watch for ballots to appear in the spring newsletter, due out in early February, and please vote!

Returning director candidates:

Galen Hasler

Galen was introduced to field science by his father, a UW zoology professor, who helped him identify backyard birds, waterfowl on Lake Mendota, and pileated woodpecker in the northwoods. Galen's own birding adventures began with 17 spring warblers that he identified at the UW Arboretum. Since then he has traveled to six continents and five oceans to see birds! Galen practiced medical oncology in Maine and Missouri where he served the Missouri Prairie Foundation and privately converted a 250-acre Osage River watershed to the Wetland Reserve Program. Moving to his Madison home in 2007, Galen directed Hospice for five years and has since joined the boards of MAS and the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.

Joanne Jones

Joanne is recently retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she spent the vast majority of her career after graduating from UW-Madison School of Business with degrees in Accounting and Information Systems and passing the CPA exam. Before retirement, she served as the chief financial officer for the Division of Information Technology at UW, overseeing a large budget with multiple technology enterprises.  Joanne and Terry, her retired school teacher husband, live on 18 acres in Deerfield.  They are proud parents to two grown and successful children and currently care for horses, cats and a yellow Labrador puppy named Miss Molly.

Jim Shurts

Jim Shurts has been birding since the time his mother pointed out a cardinal at the backyard feeder many, many years ago.  That love of birds lead him to become an ardent conservationist, active with several non-profit conservation groups.  After retiring from the University of Wisconsin he joined the Madison Audubon board.  “Madison Audubon’s sanctuaries and educational efforts really do lift my spirits.  It is a true pleasure to work with the Madison Audubon's staff and volunteers.  And as I’ll tell anyone who listens, Goose Pond rocks!”  Jim is the chair of the Sanctuaries Committee and loves to prairies.


New Director Candidates:


Pat Eagan

Patrick is a grandfather, photographer and emeritus professor at UW-Madison, where he taught classes on both sustainability and engineering.  His last two positions at UW were as an educational fellow in UW-Madison’s Office of Sustainability and as chair of the Environment and Resources degree program in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.  His wife, Lloyd, is retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and is also active in environmental endeavors.


Dave Rihn

David is currently employed as the Safety Coordinator for the City of Madison and has been in occupational safety for 30 plus years.   He has a BS in Education and a completed his course work for a Master's degree in Business.   In his spare time, he is an avid year round outdoor person who loves hiking, birding and photography.  He is a regular contributor of nature photography to the Wisconsin Birding and Naturalist websites. Dave has a passion for learning about the natural world, whether geology, astronomy, plants, birds or animals. His wife, Valerie, shares his enthusiasm for the outdoors and they are often found at Goose Pond looking for snowy owls in the winter and ducks in the spring and fall.  They are known for their flying squirrels who nightly show up to raid their bird feeders.

John Shillinglaw

John Shillinglaw is a retired ophthalmologist and moved to Madison four years ago. He has been an Audubon member for 45 years and was active with the Fox River Valley Audubon Society. He is a restoration biologist with a special interest in dry prairies.  Hobbies include birdwatching, paddling, biking, fly fishing and hiking. He is especially interested in Madison Audubon's education programs.



MAS reviews Badger Army Ammo Plant master plan

A view of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant grounds from the southeast. Photo from WI DNR webpage.

A view of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant grounds from the southeast. Photo from WI DNR webpage.

The Badger Army Ammunition Plant, located just south of Devil's Lake State Park in south central Wisconsin, was the largest munitions plant in the world during World War II. It was decommissioned in 1997, the buildings since then demolished and the land remediated for its new owners. Much of the land is now restored prairie.

The 7,000+ acres is now part of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, and will be maintained by three owners: the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ho-Chunk Nation, and Dairy Forage Research Center. A master plan for DNR-designated land has been drafted, revised, and is now available for public review.

Madison Audubon Society's Advocacy Committee is reviewing the draft master plan and will provide the DNR with feedback on best management practices for protecting grassland birds and the opportunities and challenges facing a restoration of critical habitats (oak openings and prairies). The DNR Board meets on December 14, 2016 in Madison to discuss the plan and gather feedback - public participation is welcome.

Access the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement here.

Streamlined membership: simple is better!

Changes in our membership structure make it easier than ever to support local conservation here in south-central Wisconsin. 

Changes in our membership structure make it easier than ever to support local conservation here in south-central Wisconsin. 

Madison Audubon and National Audubon, in addition to sharing a mission to conserve and protect natural ecosystems, have long shared membership through what is known as a One Audubon membership. It’s a simple idea—anyone who joins one organization automatically becomes a member of the other.

Think globally (or at least hemispherically); act locally.
Your One Audubon membership is a terrific deal. For a contribution of $20 or more to National Audubon, you receive five issues of the acclaimed Audubon magazine, and you're part of a major conservation network with hemispheric reach, protecting birds and their habitats throughout their ranges, from Argentina to Canada.

As one of more than 3100 members of Madison Audubon, you can also get your hands dirty (literally or figuratively) fighting the good fight close to home in our eight-county service area—protecting land, supporting nature-based educational programming and field trips for all ages, and advocating for sound environmental policies.

So what’s changing?
In order to minimize the number of renewal notices you receive and to simplify processing, Madison Audubon now encourages all One Audubon members to renew their memberships through National at or by calling 844-428-3826. National will let you know when it’s time to renew. If you would like a Madison Audubon membership only, please renew using the gift form in your newsletter, or right here online.

For local-only members (those who opt not to receive National Audubon mailings) we are also replacing the multiple categories of membership formerly available through Madison Audubon with a single membership. Give just $20 or more to Madison Audubon, and you will enjoy a local-only membership for you or your household.

What do my membership fees and contributions support?
When your renew your One Audubon membership through National Audubon, Madison Audubon receives a small portion of the basic membership fee, although this amounts to less than 3% of our local operating budget. Any additional contribution you make when renewing through National supports National Audubon programming.

Madison Audubon relies on contributions from members made directly to our office for the large majority of our funding, so in addition to renewing your Audubon memberships, please consider contributing directly to our organization either via mail or online.

We appreciate all you do and hope these new changes will make it easier to be a part of such a great community of conservationists. Thanks, as always, for being a part of the flock!  

- The Madison Audubon Board of Directors 

Welcome to our new site!

You spoke, we listened! We hope you'll enjoy our new website. Eastern meadowlark photo by Phil Brown.

You spoke, we listened! We hope you'll enjoy our new website. Eastern meadowlark photo by Phil Brown.

Madison Audubon members: You spoke and we listened!

In order to better serve our amazing members, and better tell our story to those who aren't (yet!) members, we've redesigned our site with YOU in mind.

Our new space is structurally simpler, but more visually engaging (to better show off the birds and beautiful places we all love). The new site also has fully responsive design (so you can see everything clearly on your iPad, mobile phone, or desktop) and simplified navigation (yep, the menus on our last site drove us crazy, too).

Here are some great features of the new site that you should know about:

Please know that we're still working on building out sections of the site and bringing over content from the old site to the new one (like our Featured Sanctuary Birds and other news updates) so if you can't find something at the moment, check back regularly or use our fancy new search function! Additionally, all of our web work is being done in-house now, so you can leave a comment on this post, or contact us directly if you have questions on content, and idea for a great story for our new blog, or see an issue that needs to be fixed. You can reach us at

I've enjoyed the process of creating this new site - the team here at Madison Audubon is excited to make it a more user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing place to visit.  Please let us know if there's anything else we can do to make a great place for you to learn and be inspired by our amazing natural world here in south-central Wisconsin!

Happy birding -

Emily Meier
Director of Communications & Outreach


Feeling punny? Help us name our specially "brood" craft beer!

Our Birds, Bikes, & Brews event is just a few weeks away - and we need your help naming our bird-themed beer!

On the day of the event, $1 of every pint sold of this fantastic session pale ale brewed by the beer masters at Next Door Brewing Co. will benefit Madison Audubon's conservation and nature education programs. 

Want to give it a shot? Check out our Facebook page and enter your punniest name suggestions in the comments! A panel of judges will choose the top five entries, and they'll be put up for a vote
*All entries due by 9/15! Enter as many times as you like!

(Haven't heard of Birds, Bikes, & Brews? Well, it's awesome, and you should join us! Check it out below.)

This event is made possible with support from Next Door Brewing Company and Cricket Design Works.