Celebrate the Wonder of Bird Migration at Oshkosh Bird Fest


The silence of winter is past and the air is full of bird song. It is a wondrous time of year when our migrating birds return once again. Want to learn more about our feathered friends and how we can welcome them to our yards by providing much needed water, shelter and a safe resting oasis? Then come to Oshkosh Bird Fest on Saturday, May 6th. Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with a variety of activities for all ages. Visit Shelter #1 in Menominee Park for a complete schedule and location of activities. The event is free and open to the public. Rain or shine, plan to make a day of it. Hey, kids, pick up your passport for a chance to win a prize basket. Concessions available from 4H Interstate Exchange Program.

Menominee Park will be the center of activity from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. Then join us downtown for a bird-themed Saturday Night Out Gallery Walk.

The day will begin in a 17-foot diameter circle for a “Big Sit”, a unique way to bird watch from 6:00 am to Noon. Join Anita Carpenter inside the circle anytime for as long as you want.  Bring a chair and binoculars, if you have them, and enjoy watching, listening, counting and learning about birds that you see and hear. This is sometimes described as “a tailgate party for birders”. Dick Nikolai, a licensed bird bander, will be monitoring his mist nets and banding birds from 7:00 am-10:30 am. See birds close up and learn why we band birds and how it is done. In cooperation with City Forester, Bill Sturm, and thanks to Stuart’s Landscaping & Garden Center for a donation of native trees and shrubs, the area where Dick sets up the mist nets will be newly “birdscaped”.

Have you heard about birdscaping? Want to know more about it? Plan to attend an interesting presentation at 11:45 about “Birdscaping with Native Plants” by Joy Perry. Learn how you can make your backyard an oasis for birds during migration and all year long by planting native flowers, shrubs and trees that provide birds with food and shelter. Conveniently, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter will be selling native plants that are healthy and well suited to our area.

Beginning at 8:00 am, take a bird walk along Miller’s Bay or other areas of the park with knowledgeable birders. You never know what we might see. Ask about the bird walks at Shelter #1. We plan to run them continuously all morning. Don’t miss the presentations at 10:15 & 12:45 with live birds of prey by Beka Weiss of Aves Wildlife Alliance.  Beka, a licensed rehabilitator, will have owls and hawks with her. Learn about these beautiful birds. What a great opportunity to observe these awesome birds up close! ​Visit the Menominee Park Zoo from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm to participate in educational and fun children’s activities. Kid’s will be “banded” in an exercise to show how birds are caught, processed and banded for research; learn about the different kinds of beaks and try to eat like a bird using tools; make binoculars and take a bird walk; play the migration game; and more!

Got bird questions? We’ve got answers! From 8:00 am – 2:00 pm check out the informative exhibits about bird migration and identification, landscaping with native plants, habitat restoration, bluebirds, bird habitat and more. Exhibitors include Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Butte des Morts Conservation Club, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, Menominee Park Shoreland Restoration Project, Oshkosh Sustainability Advisory Board, Oshkosh Zoological Society, UWO Crane Research Team, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter, Winnebago Audubon Society, Winnebago County Land and Water Conservation Dept., Winnebago County Master Gardeners, and Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Purple Martin Association. Mid-Wisconsin Chippers Club will also have a display of bird carvings.

Build a wren house to take home and hang in your back yard. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity for purchasing and precutting the wood. Volunteers from Rotaract Oshkosh will be there to help you. One for family, please. Donations accepted to benefit both of these organizations.

And don’t forget to check out the silent auction for some great stuff like a pair of binoculars perfect for bird watching!

The bird theme continues into the evening at Saturday Night Out Gallery Walk from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Oshkosh Bird Fest will be headquartered at the Oshkosh Masonic Center and will feature a Student Bird Art Exhibit plus live birds with bird rehabilitator Ann Rosenberg with a Great Horned Owl and Oshkosh Zoo’s Blue and Gold Macaw. Visit a variety of educational exhibits and check out the silent auction.

New this year is “Bird Fest Under the Dome 2017”, an exhibit hosted by the Oshkosh Public Library in the Waters Building and sponsored by the Oshkosh Photography Group. It will be an amazing display of bird photographs taken by 23 photographers from across the state. Bird Fest under Dome Poster 2017  Many of the downtown businesses participate in Gallery Walk featuring artists, photographers and more. Falconer Todd Holzhausen and his Harris Hawk will be at AtomicKatz; falconer Eric Ratering at 2 Blondes; and Aves Wildlife Alliance at Klassy Kids.  Participate in the Bird Trivia Game for a chance to win a prize. Oshkosh Bird Fest is a city event organized by volunteers from Oshkosh Bird Club, Oshkosh Sustainability Advisory Board, Oshkosh Zoological Society, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter, Winnebago Audubon Society, and Wisconsin DNR. It is entirely funded by donations. Oshkosh was awarded recognition as a Bird City Wisconsin in 2010, and recertified in 2017 as a “high flyer”, because Oshkosh is a bird friendly community and is committed to implementing sound conservation practices and educating its residents to play an increased role in making our community healthy for birds … and people.  ​We are grateful to our major sponsors: Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter, Winnebago Audubon Society, Animal Hospital of Oshkosh, Oshkosh Zoological Society, Oshkosh Bird Club, Provident Financial Consultants, Wild Bird & Backyard, and Eagle Optics. For additional information visit www.oshkoshbirdfest.com. Like us on Facebook and participate in our daily bird quiz.

Top Left:  This American Kestrel is an educational bird from Aves Wildlife Alliance. Just one of many they bring for their presentations. Photo by Joe Weidenmeier.

Right:  Fill the Bill is a fun, educational activity for children to learn how bird bills are not all the same and very specialized. Photo by Joe Weidenmeier.

Bottom Right:  Build a bird house for wrens to take home and put up in your backyard., thanks to Habitat for Humanity and Rotaract.  This photo of a House Wren by Jeff Weymeir was one of the winners of the Bird Fest Under the Dome photography contest. See an amazing exhibit by 23 photographers from across the state “under the dome” at the Oshkosh Public Library.



About Author

Janet Wissink

Janet Wissink is Chairperson of Oshkosh Bird Fest, President of Winnebago Audubon Society and a member of Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter. In her spare time, she enjoys bird watching, wildflower gardening, and drawing. If you have been to Sheldon Nature Area at Oakwood School or Sullivan’s Woods, you have seen her illustrations on the trail signs.

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