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Thursday, 07 March 2019 11:22

Brew City Birding Festival 2019

Brew City Birding Festival Logo

Monday, May 6 - Saturday, May 11, 2019

Join us for our Third Annual Brew City Birding Festival, a wonderful week of bird-themed field trips, lectures, family-friendly programs and activities, and bird watching opportunities. Find more info below and download a guide to the festival here!

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, May 11 with our popular Green Birding Challenge. Learn more about the Green Birding Challenge here!

BCBF 2019 1


Spend a week with the birds!

Frequent Flyer Pass

Pick Your Price: $100 / $50 / $30

A Brew City Birding Festival Frequent Flyer Pass includes admission to any Brew City Birding Festival lecture and discounts on festival field trips (a total value of up to $100)! Passes can be purchased online, during registration for any of the programs or in-person at one of our Weekly Bird Walks.

Buy your Frequent Flyer Pass today!

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


 

Brew City Birding Festival Weekly Events

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  |  Tuesday  |  Wednesday  |  Thursday

Monday, May 6 

Birding at Riveredge Nature Center  

Meet at our Riverside Park branch | Monday, May 6 | 8:00 am - 2 pm

Program Cost: $50 | UEC Members: $36 | Price Break: $25 | Frequent Flyer Pass: $20

Established in the 1960’s and with nearly 380 acres of varied green spaces along the Milwaukee River, Riveredge Nature Center is one of the oldest and largest Nature Centers in Southeast Wisconsin. It is also a birding mecca with over 200 species of birds recorded, including an astounding 67 species of breeding birds. We will explore a portion of the more-than 12 miles of trails including Riveredge Creek and Ephemeral Pond State Natural Area. Dress for the weather and bring a lunch. Binoculars available. Online pre-registration required. 

Register

 

Bird Banding at the UEC: With 16 Years of Data, What Have We Found? (Lecture)
White-breasted Nuthatch with a seed in its bill

Riverside Park | Monday, May 6 | 2:30 to 3:30 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass: Free

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 your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

From Flowers to Feathers: Bird Habitat for Your Yard (Workshop)

Riverside Park | Monday, May 6 | 6:00 to 8:30 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass: Free

Join us for presentations from area ornithologists and landscapers to learn about planting native plants in your yard, basic principles of native landscape design, and how it helps many wildlife species, especially birds. Register online or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Tuesday, May 7

Weekly Bird Walk

A teen, a man, and a woman looking through binoculars in a wooded area in Riverside Park.

Menomonee Valley | Tuesday, May 7 | 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. No need to register.

Learn More

 

Big Green Birding Bike Ride

Meet at our Washington Park branch | Tuesday, May 7 | 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Program Cost: $15 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $5 | Frequent Flyer Pass: Free

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 or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Journey of a Thousand Lifers (Lecture)

Riverside Park | Tuesday, May 7 | 5:15 to 6:15 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass: Free

This is a presentation of an around-the-world trip that Bill Volkert and his wife Connie took from September 2014 through April 2015. Traveling nearly eight months, they covered twelve countries from southern Africa to India and Southeast Asia, sighting more than 1,300 species of birds and over a thousand lifers. They traveled 55,000 miles and took 35,000 pictures to capture their adventures. This program provides an overview of their travels and some of the amazing wildlife and wild places they visited. This truly was a trip of a lifetime. Register online or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Birding the Last Frontier (Lecture)

Riverside Park | Tuesday, May 7 | 6:15 to 7:15 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass: Free

From ptarmigans to curlews and auklets to eiders, join John O’Donnell to explore the challenges and rewards of birding major Alaskan hotspots such as the Pribolof Islands, Nome, Attu, Gambell and Barrow. John has led seven birding trips in Alaska and has participated in five others — and says he is not yet finished with the Last Frontier state. Register online or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Wednesday, May 8

Weekly Bird Walk

Washington Park | Wednesday, 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. No need to register.

Learn More

 

Birding in Muskego Park

Meet at our Menomonee Valley branch | Wednesday, May 8 | 8:00 am - noon

Program Cost: $50 | UEC Members: $36 | Price Break: $25 | Frequent Flyer Pass: $20

Cerulean warblers, scarlet tanagers, and barred owls find Muskego Park's majestic old-growth mesic forest carpeted with spring ephemeral wildflowers especially appealing. Join Julia Robson, Conservation Biologist for Waukesha County Parks, and Dianne Robinson, Wildlife Biologist for Wisconsin DNR, for an in-depth look at the unique birds and habitat management practices in this stunning State Natural Area and County Park! Online pre-registration required.

Register

 

Birds and Beer! (Lecture and drinks)  Hands clinking glasses of beer over two sets of binoculars

Meet at Gathering Place Brewing Co. (811 E. Vienna Ave.) | Wednesday, May 8 | 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass: Free

Join us for an evening of birds, beer, socializing, bird trivia, and a short program by Matt Mendenhall, Editor of BirdWatching Magazine. Don’t forget money for beer! Register online or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Thursday, May 9

Bird Banding at Riverside Park (Bird research in action)  (canceled)

Two women looking at a bird through magnification goggles.

Riverside Park | Thursday, May 9 | 5:30 am - 11:30 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. Online pre-registration required. Weather dependant.

Register

 

Weekly Bird Walk

Riverside Park | Thursday, 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. No need to register.

Learn More

 

Field Trip to Harbor Haven (canceled)

Meet at our Riverside Park branch | Thursday, May 9 | 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

Program Cost: $28 | UEC Members: $20 | Price Break: $14 | Frequent Flyer Pass: $10

On the shores of Lake Michigan just south of downtown Milwaukee, the Consolidated Disposal Facility is where the Port of Milwaukee dumps their dredged infill. Consequently, this fenced off space has become a safe haven for several species of birds and possibly boasts the largest historical bird list of any single location in Wisconsin. Join Harbor District and Urban Ecology Center staff as we watch these undisturbed avians from a distance. Dress for the weather and bring a lunch. Binoculars available. Online pre-registration required.

Register

 

Field Trip to Milwaukee County Zoo

Meet at our Washington Park branch | Thursday, May 9 | 11 am - 3 pm

Program Cost: $50 | UEC Members: $36 | Price Break: $25 | Frequent Flyer Pass: $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 about banding hummingbirds and other projects involving wild birds on the property. Bring a bag lunch to enjoy on the Zoo grounds. Online pre-registration required.

Register

 

Field Trip to Milwaukee Public Museum (canceled)

Meet at our Menomonee Valley branch | Thursday, May 9 | 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Program Cost: $50 | UEC Members: $36 | Price Break: $25 | Frequent Flyer Pass: $20

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.

Register

 

Birds in Poetry (Reading)

Riverside Park | Thursday, May 9 | 6:00 - 7:00 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass and Urban Echo Poet Members: Free

Birders and poets share much in common. Both like working by ear and always make a practice of naming things. Join Susan Firer and Carolyn Vargo for an evening of favorite bird poems. Susan Firer served as Milwaukee’s Poet Laureate from 2008-2010 and is adjunct Professor Emeritus at UW-Milwaukee. Stay afterwards for a session of writing poetry with the Urban Echo Poets. Register online or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Bird Navigation: A Remarkable Ability! (Lecture) 

Riverside Park | Thursday, May 9 | 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Program Cost: $14 | UEC Members: $10 | Price Break: $7 | Frequent Flyer Pass and Urban Echo Poet Members: Free

For their entire lives, many birds migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles twice a year. What’s even more remarkable, is that they are able to navigate these flyways using an internal global positioning system complete with specialized organs, an internal compass, and super-senses! Join Tim Vargo, UEC Manager of Research, for this month's Beak to Tail series hosted by the Center’s Urban Stargazers group. If skies are clear, telescopes will be set up for some stargazing after. Register online or use your Frequent Flyer Pass!

Register

 

Man marvels at a pack of native bird feathers at a class.


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

Sponsor:

weyco BCBF web 2019

Community Partners:

BirdWatching Magazine • Urban Echo Poets • Waukesha Parks & Recreation • Milwaukee County Zoo • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources • Riveredge Nature Center • Milwaukee Public Museum • Bill Volkert • John O’Donnell • Gathering Place Brewery • Urban Stargazers • Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory • Harbor District, Inc.

 

Photo credits: White-breasted Nuthatch by Bruce Halmo, Beer by ADBE.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017 14:57

Storied Landscapes

Earth Day is nearly upon us. Each year we pause on April 22nd to think about ecology, climate change, preservation—survival. This past year, people the world over have come together around the protection of our waters, taking up the chant "Water is Life."   Now as we think about the health of our planet, I invite you to consider the way we "story" water, the earth, the sky, and all the natural beings in the universe. In The Truth About Stories Indigenous writer Tom King asks, "Do the stories we tell reflect the world as it truly is, or did we simply start off with the wrong story?"

Many folk tales, urban legends, and myths have led people to believe just plain inaccurate things about some of our wild creatures. Dragonflies were believed to be the Devil’s helpers by sewing naughty children’s eyes shut while they slept. Bats were believed to get tangled in people’s hair in the dark because of misconceived poor eyesight. And, ravens were thought to be premonitions of death. I’ve heard countless critter myths throughout the years, but one creature in particular continues to surprise me with its maligned status: cue the American Toad.

Thursday, 30 June 2016 12:23

CRIKT and You

It is the season of showy butterflies, buzzing cicadas, crackling grass hopper wings and CRIKT research. Nope, that is not a typo. CRIKT stands for “Citizens Researching Invertebrate Kritters Together” and this research team at the Urban Ecology Center is leading the nation in its approach to field ecological research. “Invertebrate Kritters” refers to the vast array of animals found in the insect, spider and mite categories. Because invertebrates impact people in a variety of ways: pollinating crops, decimating crops and invoking some of our greatest fears or senses of awe, they have been studied quite a bit over the years. So what sets CRIKT apart? It is WHO is involved and WHERE they work.

A potent odor in Three Bridges Park recently led us to a dead skunk lying next to the Menomonee River. It rested, amazingly intact, on a sewerage outflow pipe lightly covered in snow. Whether he was the victim of hypothermia, winter starvation or a ravenous hawk remained a mystery, but whatever the skunk’s demise, it was clear that two weeks after he had perished, his scent still lingered.

When I think of the opossum, I think of a scrappy little character; tough, resilient, clever, and tenacious. In fact, one of my first memories of the opossum demonstrates its impressive adaptability. When tree hollows and brush piles provided inadequate shelter, the resourceful opossum sought shelter elsewhere - she would sneak in under our house's raised foundation and hunker down next to the hot water pipes beneath the bathrooms. There, she would build a comfortable bed of dry grass and stay till spring. And sometimes, when my family would take a shower or bath, you could even hear the scratching of little opossum paws against the water pipes, presumably acknowledging the relief provided by the warm plumbing.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 00:00

Cops and Larvas

 

The thing I enjoy most about working at the Urban Ecology Center is the occasional unforgettable experience I get to share with volunteers. They don’t happen every day, but sometimes Mother Nature waves her wand at a precise second and a really special moment is created. I’ve seen volunteers cry in reverence to close natural experiences and I’ve experienced the pure magic of nature more times than should probably be allowed. But last week a trio of beat cops shared with me a moment that was surely conjured by the powerful mother herself.

By now you have probably heard about the Riverside Park Beaver. He’s been chewing down Milwaukee River Greenway trees since the summer of 2014, has been featured on local news segments, has been written about in social media and blog articles, and even became the star of our recent Earth Month grant-matching campaign. But, how much do you really know about this busy beaver? You might be surprised to learn that this species is much more complex than one might think.

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!

I have a confession. A part of me enjoyed when the Riverside Park beaver was a secret. I liked sneaking through the park examining tree trunks along the river for signs of beaver chewing. I enjoyed watching the progress of the chew on the large cottonwood that first revealed signs of the beaver. I enjoyed sharing the location of the tree with nature-loving volunteers and I entertained myself by photographing two of those volunteers with the last name "Beaver" kneeling next to the tree pretending to gnaw at the bark.

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