Displaying items by tag: Birds
Friday, 17 November 2017 09:08

Mother Nature and Father Time

Mother Nature and Father Time. We’ve known they were our family for at least 3,000 years when they first entered into Ancient Greek lore. I prefer to call them our parents and leave out the gender, but let’s focus on their relationship.

It’s prudent to consider time in our daily lives – learn from the past, live in the present, prepare for the future. Nature excels at all three of these things.

On an early morning bird walk last year, we smelled our find before we saw her. The smell of necrosis mixed with day-old vomit lingered on the light breeze. We scoured the nearby terrain trying to find the mysterious decaying matter hidden amongst the leaf litter only to remain perplexed. And then we saw her. Perched on a tree branch, just 10 feet from our heads, sat the pungent perpetrator.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 10:36

Brew City Birding Festival

Brew City Birding Festival Logo

Monday, May 7 - Friday, May 11

The Urban Ecology Center is celebrating the second edition of the Brew City Birding Festival! This event is a week-long bird-themed festival from Monday, May 7th - Friday, May 11th. Participants will have a chance to partake in field trips, lectures, family-friendly programs and activities, and bird watching opportunities.

Our weekday morning and afternoon programs feature field trips and bird-themed programs appropriate for everyone. Our weekday evening programs feature lectures and programs more suitable for adults of all skill levels. The festival culminates on Saturday with our popular Green Birding Challenge fundraiser!

So, why are we doing this in May? Besides being the best time of year to view large numbers of birds in colorful plumage, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is celebrated every May. WMBD is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and is turning the spotlight on the bird itself. We are excited


Festival participants exploring Milwaukee during a birding field trip


Brew City Birding Festival Weekly Events

Monday, May 7 Tuesday, May 8 Wednesday, May 9 Thursday, May 10 Friday, May 11

Our array of weekday events feature field trips highlighting important stopover sites in and around Milwaukee and programs designed to hone the skills of introductory to advanced birders alike. Check out the full schedule of field trips and lectures below.

Monday, May 7

Birding at Wind Point Field Trip 

Meet at our Riverside Park branch
Monday, May 7 | 8:00 am - noon
| $15 (Nonmembers: $20)
Avocets, red-necked grebes, great-crested flycatchers, and orchard orioles are highlight birds that have been documented trolling the shores around Wind Point’s lighthouse and the park’s steep ravines. Join the UEC’s birding aficionado, Tim Vargo, as we explore this unique area together. Registration required. Frequent Flyer discount eligible.

Bird Banding at the UEC - What a Sliver of 15 Years Worth of Data Tells Us (lecture)

Riverside Park
Monday, May 7 | 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
| $5 (Nonmembers: $10)
Perhaps you’ve helped out with this project in the field and then wondered exactly what these little birds are helping us to discover? Learn about some of the trends and patterns that our data have unearthed and the powerful stories data hold. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Look, Up in the Sky! It’s a Hawk! No, a Falcon. No, it’s an Eagle! (lecture)

Riverside Park
Monday, May 7 | 6:00 - 7:00 pm
| $5 (Nonmembers: $10)
Can you tell a buteo from an accipiter in flight? What about from a distance of 100 yards in the rain while a Red Oak is blocking half your vision? Join Seth Cutright as he shares tips and tricks to help you identify raptors in the field more confidently. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Tuesday, May 8

Menomonee Valley Bird Banding (Menomonee Valley)

Tuesday, May 7 | 5:15 am - 11:00 am | Free - donations appreciated
Watch the Urban Ecology Center's Bird Banding team band migratory song birds passing through our green spaces. Lucky participants might even have a chance to hold a live wild bird! Register online

Weekly Bird Walk (Menomonee Valley)

Tuesday, May 8 | 8:00 am - 10:30 am | Free - donations appreciated
Get exercise, enjoy fresh air and let's see how many birds we can find in one morning! Spring migration is the BEST! Binoculars available to borrow. No need to register.

Field Trip: Birding in Warnimont Park (Meet at our Menomonee Valley branch)

Tuesday, May 8 | 8:00 am - Noon | $15 (Nonmembers: $20)
Worm-eating warblers, bank swallow colonies, and long-eared owls find the steep cliffs, bluff faces, and grassy fields of this Milwaukee County Park appealing. Join Milwaukee County Parks Assistant Natural Areas Coordinator, Julia Robson, for an in depth look at the birds and habitat management practices of the Park. Online pre-registration required. Frequent Flyer discount eligible.

Field Trip: Milwaukee Public Museum (Meet at our Menomonee Valley branch)

Tuesday, May 8 | 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm | $25 (Nonmembers: $30)
Take a behind the scenes tour of the Ornithology collection at the Milwaukee Public Museum and experience some of the hidden gems not on display. Fee covers admission to the museum. Online pre-registration required. Frequent Flyer discount eligible.

Lecture: Bird is the Word! (Riverside Park)

Tuesday, May 8 | 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm | $5 (Nonmembers: $10)
This introductory-level presentation will offer something for beginner to advanced birders alike. Ever wonder why a duck’s feet don’t freeze to the ice in the winter or how a bird can perch on a branch without falling? Former MIAD Ornithology Professor, Maria Terres, will lead a lecture about the unusual things that make birds unique creatures in the animal kingdom. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Lecture: The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (Riverside Park)

Tuesday, May 8 | 6:15 pm - 7:15 pm | $5 (Nonmembers: $10)
The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory is not only the only observatory on either shore of Lake Michigan, it’s the only bird observatory in the entire state of Wisconsin; and it’s right in your backyard! In this talk, Chuck Hagner, board chair of the observatory, will share its history, some of its most important research and monitoring projects, and how it is working to advance the conservation of birds and bats throughout the Great Lakes Region. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Wednesday, May 9

Weekly Bird Walk (Washington Park)

Wednesday, May 9 | 8:00 am - 10:30 am | Free - donations appreciated 
Get exercise, enjoy fresh air and let's see how many birds we can find in one morning! Spring migration is the BEST! Binoculars available to borrow. No need to register.

Big Green Birding Bike Ride! (Meet at our Washington Park location)

Wednesday, May 9 | 8:00 am - 4:00 pm | $10 (Nonmembers: $15)
Get exercise, enjoy fresh air and see how many birds we can find in one day using no fossil fuels! Bring a lunch, a bike, and binoculars. Bikes and binoculars are available for Urban Ecology Center members to borrow. Register online. Frequent Flyer discount eligible. 

Field Trip: Milwaukee County Zoo (Meet at our Washington Park location)

Wednesday, May 9 | 11:00 am - 3:00 pm | $15 (Nonmembers: $20)
Tour the Zoo Aviary and learn about captive avian management and conservation projects staff are involved in. Also, enjoy a short walk to one of the hummingbird banding sites on the Zoo’s grounds. Participants will learn how banding a hummingbird is conducted as well as various other projects involving wild birds on the property. Bring a bag lunch to enjoy on the Zoo grounds. Online pre-registration required. Frequent Flyer discount eligible.

Birds and Beer! & Sex Lives of Birds (Meet at Gathering Place Brewery)

Wednesday, May 9 | 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Birds & Beer, 6-7 pm: Sex Lives of Birds | $5 (Nonmembers: $10)
DBirder extraordinaire, Becca Sher, will host the popular Birds & Beer program with special guest, UW-Milwaukee distinguished professor, Peter Dunn. Dr. Dunn will discuss some of the nuances that make bird reproduction and mating rituals so fascinating and the oddities that a lifetime of research on mating systems have revealed. Meet us at Gathering Place Brewery and don’t forget money for beer! Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Field Trip: Horicon Marsh (Meet at our Riverside Park location)

Thursday, May 10 | 7:00 am - 3:00 pm | With Lunch: $50 (Nonmembers: $55), Without Lunch: $40 (Nonmembers: $45)
This 33,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge regularly attracts some of the state’s rarest birds and boasts a park list of 300 species. American white pelicans, yellow-headed blackbirds, and a variety of marsh birds are common spring cohabitants of this sprawling and largely accessible state gem. Join UEC’s raptor expert, Danny Pirtle, for a full-day field trip of birding fun. Online pre-registration required. Frequent Flyer discount eligible.

Weekly Bird Walk (Riverside Park)

Thursday, May 10 | 8:00 am - 10:30 am | Free - donations appreciated
Get exercise, enjoy fresh air and let's see how many birds we can find in one morning! Spring migration is the BEST! Binoculars available to borrow. No need to register.

Birds in Poetry (Riverside Park)

Thursday, May 10 | 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm | $5 (Nonmembers: $10)
Birders and poets share much in common. Both like working by ear and always make a practice of naming things. Join Kimberly Blaeser & Chuck Stebelton for an evening of favorite poets and bird poems. Kimberly is a poet at UW-Milwaukee where she teaches Creative Writing and Native American Literatures. She served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate from 2015-2016. Chuck is a poet and Wisconsin Master Naturalist volunteer. Stay after the program to join the May gathering of the Urban Echo Poets meeting. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Lecture: Bird Navigation - A Remarkable Ability! (Riverside Park)

Thursday, May 10 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm$5 (Nonmembers: $10) 
Many birds migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles twice a year, every year , for the entirety of their lives. What’s even more remarkable, is that they are able to innately navigate these flyways using an internal global positioning system complete with specialized organs, an internal compass, and super-senses! Join Tim for this installment of his monthly Beak to Tail series hosted by the Center’s Urban Stargazers group. After the program if skies are clear there will be telescopes set up outside for some stargazing. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Field Trip: Havenwoods State Forest (Meet at Riverside Park)

Friday, May 11 | 8:00 am - Noon$15 (Nonmembers: $20) ) 
Havenwoods’ mysterious, and often forgotten, military history eventually evolved into the county’s most expansive and under-appreciated state forest. Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologist, Dianne Robinson, will reveal some of Havenwoods’ magic and help participants discover some of the special birds residing in the state forest. Online pre-registration required. Frequent Flyer discount eligible.

Lecture: Landscaping for Native Birds (Riverside Park)

Friday, May 11 | 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm$5 (Nonmembers: $10) 
Planning a garden or landscape project? Consider supporting native birds in your design! Learn tips and tricks in attracting native birds to your backyard or garden from our Land Steward Jeff Veglahn. Register online or use Frequent Flyer Pass!

Frequent Flyer Pass

Cost: $30

Includes admission to any Brew City Birding Festival lecture, early-bird festival registration, a commemorative souvenir festival pass and $5 off festival field trips.

(a total value of up to $60!)


BirdFest 11

A lecture from last year's edition


Special thank you to our sponsors and community partners whose generous support has helped make this event possible!


weyco BCBF web page

Community Partners

Kim Blaeser •Seth Cutright • Echo Poets • Milwaukee County Parks •
Milwaukee County Zoo • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources • 
Milwaukee Public Museum • Becca Sher • Peter Dunn •
Chuck Stebelton • Maria Terres • Urban Stargazers • 
Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory •  Woodland Patterns


Wednesday, 01 March 2017 16:17

Red Wings and Early Spring

For those of you who may not know, we have an organization-wide phenology competition every year to document the first of year (FoY) Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Chipmunk, Mourning Cloak, and Butler's Gartersnake. The documentation of these four species typically signifies the arrival of spring and the dismissal of winter. This year's unseasonal warm weather, however, has a resulted in an uncomfortably early kickoff.

Last fall at Riverside Park, the research and community science department was hosting the Wisconsin DNR’s bat biologists for an evening of bat mist netting, when a gregarious little screech owl paid us a visit. As DNR biologist Paul White held the large group of participants enraptured with a live bat, a persistent whinny in the distance distracted those of us at the back of the group.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00

Green Birding Challenge Recap

Thank you to everyone who helped make the 5th Annual Green Birding Challenge a success! 19 teams, comprised of both experienced and fledgling birders, participated in this year's challenge and observed over 100 distinct bird species in a fossil fuel free search around the city. Their efforts inspried more than 150 generous donors to pledge $8,000 for the Center's Citzien Science program. Wow! Read on for more fun facts and photos from the day's birding adventure!

Thursday, 07 May 2015 00:00

Simple Gifts

Have you ever had the experience of turning a corner in a familiar neighborhood, and suddenly becoming alert to all sorts of buildings or natural features you had never noticed before? That's sort of what becoming a bird watcher has been like for me. I've walked along creeks and in woods my whole life, but it's only been within the last few years that I've truly been aware of my winged companions out there.

Our research program has two unique features: an urban habitat focus and the inclusion of volunteer community scientists.

The urban wilderness research and monitoring we do provides baseline data that allow us to track how our habitat improvements affect wildlife over time. We’re measuring the changes so others can replicate the results in other cities. 

We are one of the leaders of an international movement to facilitate community-led research and monitoring. Our Community Science program focuses as much on the process of engaging community volunteers as it does on the research process itself. What this means is that everyone can contribute in a meaningful way to scientific research.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 14:17

Say Hello to the Junco!

The Galapagos Finches were crucial to Darwin’s understanding of natural selection and evolution, but did you know that evolutionary scientists have been studying a more common and locally distributed species for over a century? Learn more about the extraordinary importance of this ordinary bird as we screen the film Ordinary Extraordinary Junco.

Saturday, 26 October 2013 08:21

What’s Happening at Washington Park

With the big events that have been happening in Riverside Park and in the Menomonee Valley, it’s easy to lose track of the fantastic things happening at Washington Park. To catch everyone up, I thought it best to check in with some of the folks who are helping to make it all happen.

Tim Vargo, bird magnet and Manager of Research and Community Science, had this to say about a wonderful tradition he leads every Wednesday morning:

Upcoming Events

Event Listings

Early Morning Bird Walk (Riverside Park)

Riverside Park

Thursday, February 22nd

8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

More Details...

ROOT Menomonee Valley - Cancelled

Menomonee Valley

Thursday, February 22nd

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

More Details...

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