About Us



 Paddling Programs 2021

Explore Milwaukee's wonderful waterways by boat with us! We're excited to offer a great variety of canoeing and kayaking events this summer! There's something for everyone, from beginners to advanced paddlers of all ages. Check out our programs and register below. 

Riverside Park trips launch from the Milwaukee Rowing Club Boathouse (1990 N. Commerce St) unless otherwise indicated.

 Please note: For insurance reasons, personal boats are currently not allowed in any of our paddling programs.

View by location: Riverside Park  

Launching at 1990 N. Commerce St. (near Riverside Park)

Canoe & Brew

(For adults and teens) Unwind after a busy Monday by canoeing downtown with us! Celebrate a great paddle at Lakefront Brewery! Price includes two beverages. Meet at the Milwaukee Rowing Club Boathouse (1990 N. Commerce St).

Pick your price: $35 – $45

Monday, September 13 | 6:30-8:30 pm | Register 

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Join in on a week of feathered fun!

The Urban Ecology Center presents the Fifth Annual Brew City Birding Festival, a wonderful week of bird-themed field trips, lectures, family-friendly programs and activities, and bird watching opportunities. All are welcome!

backyardseries2 100New for 2021!

Backyard Naturalist Series Subscriptions

Includes all Virtual Brew City Birding Festival events

Simplify your registration by subscribing to the Backyard Naturalist spring/summer series. Every Friday morning at 9:00 am we explore the wonders of our backyards through talks, guest lectures, and workshops.  This subscription automatically registers you for the entire series through the end of August and as a bonus, you are also registered for all of the Brew City Birding Festival virtual events (what we used to call the Frequent Flyer Pass).  Purchase a subscription now and you're all set, just bring your inquisitive mind to the weekly lectures and the festival!

Purchase your Backyard Naturalist Series Subscription today!

For more information, contact Tim Vargo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (414) 964-8505.

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Brew City Birding Festival Schedule

Check out the full schedule of adventures, workshops, birding opportunities, field trips, and more below!

 Tuesday, May 4 

Early Morning Bird Walk at Menomonee Valley

Menomonee Valley | Tuesday, May 4 | 8-10 am | Free

(For adults and accompanied children) Kick-start your day with fresh air and bird song. Interested bird watchers of all ability levels are invited to explore Three Bridges Park for birds with us. Registration required. Meet at the Menomonee Valley Passage Bridge.

Canoeing on the Washington Park Lagoon. Photo by Faith LeMayBirding by Canoe

Washington Park | Tuesday, May 4 | 9-11 am | $15 – $25

(For everyone) Whether you are a birder or a first time learner, join us for a birding journey on the water. You will explore the lagoon at Washington Park in search for some feathered friends. Who knows what other natural treasures we may find.

Virtual – An Ornithologist Goes to the Movies, a Debunking

Virtual (register for link) | Tuesday, May 4 | 6-7 pm | Free – $10

(For everyone) Birds have been an important part of the media for millennia. From 10,000 year-old cave drawings, to themes in classical symphonies, we’ll look at the intersection of birds and the arts to debunk myths and celebrate birds!


 Wednesday, May 5

Big Green Birding Bike Ride!

Washington Park | Wednesday, May 5 | 8 am-4 pm | $9 – $14

(For adults) Get exercise, enjoy fresh air and see how many birds we can find in one day using no fossil fuels! Bring a lunch, bike, and binoculars. Bikes and binoculars are available to borrow. Masks and registration required.

Early Morning Bird Walk at Washington Park

Washington Park | Wednesday, May 5 | 8-10 am | Free

Kick-start your day with fresh air and bird song. Interested bird watchers of all ability levels are invited to explore Washington Park for birds with us. Registration is required. Meet in the parking lot next to the Washington Park UEC building.

Virtual Painting Workshop – Night Owl

Virtual (register for link) | Wednesday, May 5 | 7-8:30 pm | Free – $10

(For everyone) Grab a paintbrush and join us for an evening of painting. Capture the beauty of owls at night and get creative while guided step by step by local artist and MIAD graduate, Maggie Szpot.


 Thursday, May 6 

coffee 983955 1920Birding & Brews for Beginners

Thursday, May 6 | 7:30-9:30 am | $9 – $14

(For everyone) Grab some Colectivo coffee and join community programs educator Erin for some early morning beginner birding. We’ll meet at the McKinely Marina parking lot an then venture into Veterans Park to hopefully spot some feathered friends.


Early Morning Bird Walk at Riverside Park

Riverside Park | Thursday, May 6 | 8-10 am | Free

Kick-start your day with fresh air and bird song. Interested bird watchers of all ability levels are invited to explore Riverside Park for birds with us. Registration required. Meet in front of the Urban Ecology Center building.

Virtual – Calling all Bird Nerds to Trivia Night!

Virtual (register for link) | Thursday, May 6 | 7-9 pm | $5 – $10

(For everyone) Celebrate all things nature and birds by enjoy an evening with fellow nature nerds. Each round will have a different nature based theme so come test your limits and enjoy a laugh or two with friends, family, or just yourself!


Friday, May 7

Virtual – Birds – The Beautiful, The Bizarre and the Brand-new

Virtual (register for link) | Friday, May 7 | 9 - 10 am | Free – $10

(For everyone) Millions of years of evolution on a dinosaur spin off has produced truly unbelievable adaptations. We’ll sort through the beautiful chaos for the strangest tales and what we’ve learned since last year’s festival.

Virtual – Intro to eBird – Birding in a Technological World

Virtual (register for link) | Friday, May 7 | 3-4 pm | Free – $10

(For everyone) Do you often hear about an app and website called eBird but don’t know where to start? Learn the basics including how to submit a checklist and search for birds seen around you. Join birders from around the world on eBird!

Virtual – Kirtland’s Warbler versus the Brown-headed Cowbird – An Evolutionary Arms Race

Virtual (register for link) | Friday, May 7 | 6 - 7 pm | Free – $10

(For everyone) Explore the life history of the Brown-headed Cowbird and how its presence and breeding habits have affected vulnerable bird populations, especially that of the Federally Endangered Kirtland’s Warbler.

JC 2011 01 29 15 52 04 00368Virtual – Effects of Eco-Travel on Wildlife and Communities

Virtual (register for link) | Friday, May 7 | 7-8 pm | Free – $10

(For everyone) This presentation by Mitch Ost will focus on Birding and Gorilla watching in Uganda and how they can help preserve nature and enrich local communities. Birding is a great vehicle for exploring the multiple habitats of a nation.



BBB Logo web2Virtual - Backyard Birding Blitz

Virtual via Youtube Live and Zoom | Saturday, May 8 | 7:45 am -3 pm

Registration is required for this program.

(For everyone) Spring is finally here, bringing warmth, energy and birds to our lives! Join us for a virtual birding adventure from your backyard or neighborhood as we collectively try to document as many birds as we can without using fossil fuels. This is the perfect FREE event for families, those who have never birded in their lives, or for those who have been doing it their whole lives.

  • UEC staff will be on Youtube live answering all your questions on birds throughout the duration of the event.
  • A live-stream banding demonstration from Al Sherkow, Master Bird Bander as he explains bird banding using mists nets
  • raffle prizes will be awarded to successful checklist submissions.

See you there!

Many thanks to our sponsor!


Haga clic aquí para encontrar esta información en español.

Summer Camp 2021

kids with masksThe top priority at the Urban Ecology Center is the health and safety of our communities and staff. As the globe continues through the COVID-19 pandemic and we look forward to summer camps, we anticipate COVID-19 practices continuing to mitigate the risk of disease spread in our daily camp protocols. Urban Ecology Center continues monitoring local and public health guidelines and anticipate there may be some changes aligned within our protocols as camp dates near.


All campers and staff are required to wear masks indoors and outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. Masks are required for children ages 3 and over, unless health conditions prohibit mask-wearing.

Daily Health Assessments:

Touchless thermometers will be used to check temperatures of all staff and campers daily at entry. Health assessment forms will also be completed for every camper who reports for camp. We ask that families and campers remain home if feeling ill or have symptoms aligned with COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 within 14 days prior to attending.

Hand Washing and Sanitizing:

Hand sanitizer and hand washing will be available to campers throughout the day. If you wish to provide hand sanitizer for your child, please label it with your child’s name and give it to the camp staff so it can be properly stored.

Outdoor Program Focus:

Program activities will be held outdoors as often as possible (weather permitting). Please dress your child for outdoor exploration and fitting for the weather.


Camps are planned strategically with assigned indoor spaces and traffic flows to avoid close contact of different groups. Cleaning regimes include regular sanitization and disinfection of common use surfaces and spaces to mitigate potential surface spread.


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