columbia county

Breeding Bird Atlas: Columbia County meet-up

The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II project is in its final summer of surveying. The goal of the project is to document how many and which species are using the state to raise young, which is both an indicator of habitat availability and quality as well as bird population trends. It’s very important work, and we need your help in the Columbia County area! Birding expertise is NOT REQUIRED, just enthusiasm and enjoyment for the outdoors!

Mark Martin and Sue Foote-Martin, Madison Audubon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary resident managers, coordinate the Columbia County effort.

Osprey nest, photo by Pat Ready

Osprey nest, photo by Pat Ready

Join us!

We are holding a Columbia County Breeding Bird Atlas meeting on Saturday May 18th at Goose Pond Sanctuary, W7503 Kampen Road, Arlington.

Three months to go and the Breeding Bird Atlas II will be ready for history.  Jim Otto tabulated the info below for 16 priority blocks for Atlas I and Atlas II as of April 2019.  We are confirming more species, however, there are some blocks with much work to be done and others that need night atlas work.  We are also searching for key species such as red-shouldered hawks, nesting screech owls, and new species to confirm such as black-necked stilt, black-billed cuckoo, pine warbler, hooded warbler, and green-winged teal.  Dory Owen provided a large number of spreadsheets that are helping provide direction on where to atlas.  We plan to send this info out to those that are helping out this year.


  Coded species:  1275 total (79.7 block average)

  Confirmed species: 681 total (42.6 block average)


  Coded species:  1365 total (85.3 block average)

  Confirmed species: 750 total (46.9 block average)

The plan is to meet at Goose Pond at 7:00 a.m. and to go out in teams to atlas selected areas.  Possible survey projects the teams may cover are (1.) waterfowl and  marsh birds in priority blocks; (2.) Eurasian collared-doves; (3.) Search for red-shouldered hawk nests if  the nest surveys have not been completed; (4.) Osprey nests; (5.) Red-breasted nuthatches and other birds found in pine plantations, (6.) Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area. and (7.) trying to confirm green-winged teal nesting in Columbia County.

We will then reconvene at Goose Pond at 10:00 a.m.and have a program going over key points from the Atlas meeting in April; discuss plans for this years work; and meet others working in Columbia County.  We are also looking at holding a Breeding Bird Atlas Blitz in June and July for a priority block.   

Please RSVP ( or 608-635-4160) to let us know if your are coming Saturday the 18th for the entire morning OR at 10:00 a.m.  We will be providing snacks and lunch.  If you come for the atlas work let us know what you would like to search for.  If you can not make Saturday but would still like to help atlas this summer please let us know.

As Jim Otto says "Everything helps" with completing this atlas project.

Please share with others.  You can also report observations from your yard.

Looking forward to an interesting birding summer.

Mark and Sue, Columbia County Coordinators

Photo by Pat Ready