Birding in a Changing Climate

Written by Tim Vargo
    Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Birding in a Changing Climate

The Climate is undeniably changing; globally, regionally and especially within the Urban Ecology Center’s birding programs. This spring marks the 9th Anniversary of the Green Birding Challenge and the 3rd year of the Brew City Birding Festival.  What are these events and how are they changing?

We are excited to introduce the 3rd Annual Brew City Birding Festival!  Wisconsin is home to some wonderful bird festivals already, but our birding community in Milwaukee kept wondering why we didn’t have anything in the state’s largest city!  Thus began the Brew City Birding Festival, a week-long celebration of birds through field trips, workshops and classes.

Some of our most popular programs are returning this year, such as a trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo to learn about their hummingbird banding program and the Milwaukee Public Museum will again host a behind-the-scenes opportunity to view their extensive collection of birds from around the world. EUC birdsANDbeer 53  We are also continuing our popular Birds and Beer program at Gathering Place Brewing Co. and exploring bird navigation with the Urban Stargazers and birds in poetry with the Urban Echo Poetry.

We also have an exciting batch of new programs, such as visits to Riveredge Nature Center’s amazing natural areas and a trip to Muskego Park in Waukesha with expert naturalists Julia Robson from Waukesha County Parks and Rec. and Dianne Robinson from the Wisconsin DNR.  We’re also going to explore the Consolidated Disposal Facility also known as the Coast Guard Impoundment with staff from the Harbor District Inc, an area with the largest historical bird list in the entire state!  Two of the area’s most traveled birders, Bill Volkert (often heard on the Larry Meiller show on Wisconsin Public Radio) and John O’Donnell will bring us on a virtual tour of the world through amazing photographs and stories.  And finally, experts from the Urban Ecology Center and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory will give a workshop on how you can turn your yard into a bird haven.

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A wonderful week of bird-themed field trips, lectures, family-friendly programs and activities, and bird watching opportunities.

As in past years you can enjoy the festival and support the Urban Ecology Center by purchasing a Frequent Flyer Pass which gets you early registration to our most popular trips and discounts on all Festival Programs!


The festival culminates on Saturday, May 11 with our popular Green Birding Challenge

2019 marks the 9th consecutive year of this unique morning challenge full of friendly competition between teams to see the most birds without using fossil fuels.  We’re excited to see who will get another year of bragging rights and we are also introducing three major changes to the competition.

  • Maybe the biggest change is that we are moving the events that composed the Fledgling Fun category for children and families to a different date in June. This allows us to focus more attention to this event and gives our community members the chance to participate in both the Green Birding Challenge and the family celebration.
  • Another change is that the Rockin’ Robin beginner category no longer has a limit to the amount of people you can have on your team. This will allow groups of friends and families to participate in the mini-challenge together.
  • Finally, there will no longer be peer-to-peer fundraising for the Green Birding Challenge this year. What does this mean for your support of the event?  First of all, we are introducing the Center’s new “Pick your Price” registration fee.  This allows us to continue to offer the Challenge at an affordable rate but also gives those who can and wish to support the event at a higher level the opportunity to do so (and we encourage you to do so!).  (And you can still create a fundraiser for the event if that’s a tradition you enjoyed)

Per usual your registration also covers breakfast and lunch (you’ll need the calories for this birding exercise) and you can also purchase our iconic Green Birding Challenge T-shirt.  Please come and show your support for the Urban Ecology Center at these exciting programs.  We hope to see you in May!

For more details on any of the above events or how to become a community scientist studying urban wildlife, please contact Tim Vargo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tim Vargo

Tim Vargo

Tim’s vast experience in applied biological research with an emphasis on conservation biology, tropical biology and ornithology has allowed him to carry out research around the world, including Australia, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Panama, and throughout the United States.

Tim received an undergraduate degree in biology from Macalester College in 1995 and a Masters Degree in Biology from Purdue University in 2001.

Tim is the Manager of Research and Community Science at the Center and in his spare time, Tim enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf, relaxing at home with a good book, and fossil-fuel free (green) birding.


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