Wingspan: Fully funded and foundationally set!

While orange fencing, gray tarps, and bare ground are not the usual view in Bicentennial Prairie, this is a sight made beautiful by what it signifies. Tucked into the hillside overlooking Goose Pond is physical proof that many people know and love this sanctuary and those who tend it, and are creating something special to honor them.

We are delighted to share that nearly 100 donors have helped us reach our fundraising goal of $50,000! Because of all of you, the Wingspan observation pavilion will become a reality and a welcoming place for generations to come. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

On site, concrete footings have been poured, and the first of three sets of columns are scheduled for installation this week. The shades are being fabricated as we speak, and the solid oak slabs for the benches are in hand. We are preparing signage, and beginning to plan the dedication ceremony. Even the prairie seems ready, with its incredible show of flowers and abundance of birds and insects.


Through all of this hustle and bustle, Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin continue their dedicated work on the land at Goose Pond Sanctuary. They're graduating interns, controlling invasives, counting butterflies, and conducting outreach. Your support and respect for these humble and wonderful land managers are well founded.

Everyone is welcome to visit the Wingspan site at Goose Pond (follow the path up and to the left of the kiosk), and see the fruits of your generosity.

The Wingspan Committee

John Kaiser, Galen Hasler, Brenna Marsicek, Roger Packard, Matt Reetz, Don Schmidt, and Topf Wells, in collaboration with Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin

From the Rise of Goose Pond

Bicentennial Prairie surrounds the future Wingspan site, and is absolutely stunning right now! Photo by Brenna Marsicek

Bicentennial Prairie surrounds the future Wingspan site, and is absolutely stunning right now! Photo by Brenna Marsicek

The view from Bicentennial Prairie right now is simply glorious. The space for the new Wingspan observation platform has been cleared and leveled, and the prairie is in full bloom in anticipation of its arrival.

This project is a community-spurred effort, initiated by Madison Audubon member John Kaiser, dedicated to Goose Pond Sanctuary land managers Mark and Sue Martin, and funded entirely by those who love and support Goose Pond -- that's YOU and your fellow members! Learn more here.

A preview of what you'll see from the Wingspan platform. Photo by Arlene Koziol

A preview of what you'll see from the Wingspan platform. Photo by Arlene Koziol

Here are a few exciting updates on the Wingspan project. By all means, please come out to Goose Pond and see them for yourself!

  • The footprint for pavilion has been cleared and leveled (see photo below), and the concrete footings will be poured in the next few weeks.
  • Materials for the shades are in hand, and their production is underway.
  • The Prairie Lane road and turn-around will soon be expanded to accommodate Wingspan visitors.
  • Benches have been ordered and will be delivered once the shades are installed.
  • Plans for the dedication ceremony this fall will begin shortly. Stay tuned!
This half-circle scrape is the footprint of the future Wingspan site. More to come soon! MAS Photo

This half-circle scrape is the footprint of the future Wingspan site. More to come soon! MAS Photo

Mark the date: August 15

Donations to Wingspan of any amount are welcome and truly appreciated. All donors are listed on our website and in the newsletter.

Folks giving over $250 will be recognized on a permanent plaque on site. If you'd like your name or the name of someone you'd like to honor to appear on the plaque in time for the dedication ceremony this fall, please donate by August 15. Donations received after that date will be listed on the website and, for donations of $250 or more, on a second plaque installed at a later date.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, support, and vision! We look forward to sharing a splendid view and a long-lasting memory with you at Wingspan soon.

A Wingspan Update

Creating and leveling the space for the future Wingspan platform. Photo by Mark Martin

Creating and leveling the space for the future Wingspan platform. Photo by Mark Martin

Wow, we are just floored by your generosity! Wingspan continues to make progress, thanks to the donations of dozens of supporters. This month, construction has begun. The footprint for the observation platform has been leveled and concrete footings will soon be poured. The fill to expand the parking and turnaround areas has arrived. It's an exciting process, and you're entirely to thank!

We are almost at our fundraising goal, but still have a few thousand to go. If you know of anyone who would like to put their fingerprints on the project, please share this information with them!

Thank you for your involvement! Stay tuned for more updates!

The Wingspan Committee

Galen Hasler, John Kaiser, Brenna Marsicek, Mark and Sue Martin, Roger Packard, Matt Reetz, Don Schmidt, Topf Wells

Great Lakes at Great Risk

A view of Lake Superior from Madeline Island, Wisconsin

A view of Lake Superior from Madeline Island, Wisconsin

As Wisconsinites, the Great Lakes hold a special place in our lives. We're fortunate to live in a state which borders two of them, with a third within a few hours' drive. As a result, we are attuned to the importance, power, and fragility of the system. And the value of the Lakes for birds - resident and migratory both - is indescribable!

Like many times in the past, the Great Lakes system is again at risk, this time from severe budget cuts to one of the leading initiatives that fosters protection and restoration of the lakes. The federal administration has proposed to cut the Environmental Protection Agency 's funding by 40% and within those cuts, a 97% cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Learn more about the situation and what you can do by clicking here.

DNR public hearings: Crane hunting season, milkweeds, and more

Sandhill crane colt, photo by Arlene Kozio

Sandhill crane colt, photo by Arlene Kozio

What do you think about opening a hunting season for sandhill cranes in Wisconsin? How about statewide encouragement of planting milkweeds to support monarch butterflies? Or maintaining funding for the Stewardship Fund, which provides grants for land acquisition and conservation?

You have a chance to tell the DNR just how you feel!

On April 10, the Wisconsin DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress are hosting public hearings in every county in Wisconsin to get your feedback on these and 85 other topics relating to natural resources conservation in the state.

This is an important opportunity for us as Wisconsin citizens and the DNR’s primary stakeholders, to weigh in on the agency’s actions and priorities – particularly now, when the DNR faces many organizational changes and the future of our state’s environment is uncertain.

This document contains all 88 topics on the DNR’s questionnaire, but three topics directly related to Madison Audubon’s work are listed below. If you care about these and/or other issues listed in the questionnaire, plan to attend your local meeting on April 10, 7:00 pm.

> DNR’s webpage describing the meetings, includes links to questionnaire and locations


From the questionnaire:

Monarch caterpillar munching on a commonmilkweed leaf, MAS photo

Monarch caterpillar munching on a commonmilkweed leaf, MAS photo

QUESTION 64: Support increased planting/maintenance of milkweed (540116)

Monarch butterflies are important pollinators in Wisconsin. Population levels have declined in the U.S. by 90% over the last 20 years. The U.S. Dept. of the Interior is considering placing the monarch butterfly on the Endangered Species List, and the Wisconsin DNR is actively encouraging efforts to preserve this species. Milkweed plays a critical role in the habitat needs of the monarch (female monarchs only lay their eggs in/on milkweed plants), and it is believed that much of the population decline is due to the disappearance of milkweed. Several city, towns, and villages in Wisconsin identify milkweed as a noxious weed by ordinance and take aggressive actions to remove or prevent the planting of it within their communities.

64. Do you support having the DNR encourage local governments to remove milkweed from local noxious weed ordinances and encourage the planting and maintenance of quality milkweed plots? 64. YES____ NO_____

From MAS: Wisconsin is home to at least 10 native milkweed species (Common – Asclepias syriaca, Butterflyweed – A. tuberosa, Swamp – A. incarnata, Purple – A. purpurascens, Showy – A. speciosa, and Whorled – A. verticillata, Tall Green – A. hirtella, Prairie – A. sullivantii, Sidecluster or Wooly – A. lanuginosa, Oval-leaf – A. ovalifolia)(1,2), all of which support caterpillars of monarch butterflies by providing the one and only plant material the monarch caterpillars will eat: milkweed leaves! In addition, the flowers provide nectar for a myriad of pollinators, including but not limited to monarch adults. These plants have evolved to live in Wisconsin and are a historical piece of the biotic community here.

As part of our outreach efforts, Madison Audubon provides common milkweed seeds to community members to increase the planting and awareness of the importance of this species, particularly as a way to support monarch butterfly populations.


Prairie landscape at Faville Grove Sanctuary, photo by Roger Packard

Prairie landscape at Faville Grove Sanctuary, photo by Roger Packard

QUESTION 78: Maintain Stewardship Fund (450316)

In 1989, funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program was funded at $25 million per year and in 2010 reached a high of $86 million. Currently the Stewardship Fund is budgeted at $33.2 million dollars per year. Stewardship funds are used to purchase and develop lands for hunting, fishing, trapping and recreating, lake and stream access and easements, partnerships with local governments, and protection of unique parcels of land. Other benefits include timber harvest, tourism, many different kinds of outdoor recreation and increased water quality.

78. Do you support the Legislature continuing to fund the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund at adequate levels with wise use of the funds by the NRB and the DNR? 78. YES____ NO_____

From MAS: The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is an extremely important tool for organizations like Madison Audubon to achieve their mission-work around land acquisition, restoration, and protection. As described in an earlier post, we encourage individuals to write to the program manager to request reconsideration of changes to the program that would reduce its efficacy. Funding for this program is fundamental for its continuation and success.


Sandhill crane landing on April ice, photo by Arlene Koziol

Sandhill crane landing on April ice, photo by Arlene Koziol

QUESTION 80: Sandhill crane hunting season (540616) (requires legislation)

There are 700,000 sandhill cranes in North America and 17 states have hunting season including two states in our flyway: Kentucky and Tennessee. A management plan approved by 31 states and Canadian provinces in eastern North America established that the Eastern Population of sandhill cranes was large enough to be hunted and established a process for a state to apply for a limited quota based hunting season. In Wisconsin, the state legislature must approve a quota-based hunting season on sandhill cranes before the DNR can develop a season.

80. Do you support legislation which would give the DNR authority to begin the process to develop a hunting season for sandhill cranes? 80. YES____ NO_____

From MAS: Along with the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology (read their position post here) and other organizations, Madison Audubon is firmly against opening a crane hunting season. This is largely because of the decimation the species experienced in the early 1900’s, and their slow but steady recovery as a result of strong conservation efforts. An open hunt has potential to impact local populations by reducing overall numbers and dividing breeding pairs, as well as regional populations by reducing the potential for the species to expand from Wisconsin into other locations in its native regional range (Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, etc.). In addition, there is very strong evidence that sandhill crane hunting results in accidental take of the much more endangered whooping crane due to their similarities in appearance. The impact on these species can be significant.


Please make your opinions known at the April 10 meetings!


Good News: DOT Shuts Down Interstate Options Through Goose Pond!

Monarch on goldenrod; Photo by Arlene Koziol

Monarch on goldenrod; Photo by Arlene Koziol

Good news from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation today: The study looking into how the DOT might expand Interstate-39/90/94 outside of Madison has ended, with the elimination of the "East Reliever" interstate options. That means Goose Pond will remain unaffected and safe from this threat!

Thank you for all of our members who voiced your concerns to the DOT and made our priorities known!


Read more about what the threat was here.

MAS on Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program changes

Jill's Prairie at Madison Audubon's Goose Pond Sanctuary

Jill's Prairie at Madison Audubon's Goose Pond Sanctuary

>> Read the MAS letter to Stewardship Program coordinator <<

In 1989, the Wisconsin Legislature created the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, to be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The program facilitates the preservation of valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protection of water quality and fisheries, and expansion of opportunities for outdoor recreation. To do this, they provide grants for land acquisition and property development.

If you have been to either of our sanctuaries, you'll see the Stewardship Program at work. Madison Audubon Society received the first ever Stewardship grant for a nonprofit conservation organization for a land purchase at Goose Pond Sanctuary. Since then, the Stewardship program has been vital to completing many other acquisition projects that have contributed to the size, diversity, and beauty of our sanctuaries and now provide habitat for wildlife, recreation opportunities for citizens, and educational resources for local kids.

The Program is at risk now, due to proposed changes that severely limit the types of land proposed for Stewardship Program funding - and severely limiting Madison Audubon's ability to acquire land that will ultimately benefit Wisconsin's birds. Madison Audubon has submitted a formal letter to the Stewardship Program coordinator urging reconsideration of the proposed changes.


>> Read the MAS letter to Stewardship Program coordinator <<


Get Involved!

You can help prevent damaging changes to the Stewardship Program from happening too. The DNR is now soliciting public input on revisions to ranking/scoring criteria for nonprofit Stewardship grant proposals. Draft revisions, explanations of the goals of the revisions, and how to submit your comments are on the DNR's program guidance web page. You can also send thoughts on the proposed changes to members of the DNR Natural Resource's Board. Addresses for the members are available in our letter or online here.

Comments are being accepted through March 3. Make your voice heard!

2017 MAS Field Trips Calendar is here!


Free, fun, outdoors, and family-friendly?! How does it get any better?

We're proud to share 2017 Madison Audubon Society Field Trips calendar, complete with 26 different trips around the area to look for birds, butterflies, wildflowers, and more. All of these field trips are free and open to all, and lead by local bird expert volunteers.

To access the schedule and learn more about each, visit our Field Trips page, or download the Field Trips Calendar here!

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 highway running east of DeForest and Arlington, through Goose Pond Sanctuary at Ankenbrandt Prairie, and rejoining the existing interstate corridor near the Wisconsin River. In addition to destroying and fragmenting prairie habitat, including habitat for the endangered silphium borer 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 of one 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 rather than create a new roadway.  Nonetheless, to assure this outcome, it is crucial that everyone who loves Goose Pond let DOT know that any new route through or near Goose Pond Sanctuary will pass through a minefield of public opposition.


UPDATE (Feb. 28, 2017): Good news! The Department of Transportation has eliminated the "East Reliever" interstate options, thereby removing the threat to Goose Pond Sanctuary! Thank you for your great help in making these concerns heard!

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