Friday, April 18, 2014

The Great Wisconsin Oriole Count

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One of America's most beloved songbirds, the oriole, is coming back from its wintering grounds, and heading our way!  Wisconsin hosts 4% of the world's population of orioles during breeding and nesting season. In order to care for and monitor numbers of this brightly-colored (and easily recognized) species, we're helping put a call out to young citizen scientists: HELP US COUNT THEM! Join the Great Wisconsin Oriole Count!

Eagle Optics is proudly sponsoring this endeavor which aims to engage young people in scout troops, school classrooms, nature centers, 4H, and, well--just groups of friends! Orioles are easy to attract with orange halves and cups of grape jelly at feeding stations. Kind of that "if you build it, they will come," type of thing. It's like magic! You don't have to live in the country. Orioles like urban settings, too! Find out more about orioles here.


It's pretty amazing to learn that when orioles (the more prevalent Baltimore Oriole, and its rusty-colored cousin, the Orchard Oriole) arrive in Wisconsin, they have just completed a very long and dangerous migration flight. Most of the orioles that come here spend the winter in the Osa Peninsula, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific Coast. This brings me to the second goal of the Great Wisconsin Oriole Count: to raise funds to help the Bird Protection Fund protect the orioles' winter home. Fundraising isn't required, but it can be a fun and rewarding part of your project. Lots of teams have already registered! See the list of teams, join one if you'd like, or start your own!  Learn how here.

In order to best support this effort, two schools/groups will each receive five pairs of binoculars, a spotting scope, and tripod donated by Eagle Optics worth $1,100. Prizes will go to:
--The team that raises the most money, and
--A randomly selected team

Want to be a part of the Great Wisconsin Oriole Count? We hope you do!  The data you and the other participants collect are crucial to the well-being of our beloved orioles both now and in the future.  Spring migration wouldn't be the same without heralding the arrivial of this beautiful species.  Register today (hurry--registration closes April 30), get your citizen scientist hat on, and stock up on oranges and grape jelly. We--and the orioles--will all benefit!

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

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