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 4th. 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.

Menominee Park will be the center of activity from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Then join us downtown at the Oshkosh Masonic Center for Oshkosh Gallery Walk from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

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 in 2017, one of the areas where Dick sets up the mist nets is “birdscaped”. 

Want to go on a bird walk with an experienced birder? Walks will begin at 8:00 am and explore Menominee Park shoreline and interior.  Additional walks will begin at 9:30 and 10:30.

Three presentations are on the schedule this year.  First, at 9:00 am, Mark Kakatch, from Wisconsin Wildlife Federation will help us with identifying the large variety of ducks in our area along with discussion about their habitat restoration projects that create perfect places for ducks to nest and find food.

Second, you won’t want to miss this favorite presentation at 10:30 am, Live Birds of Prey with Aves Wildlife Alliance. Beka, a licensed rehabilitator, will have owls and hawks with her. Learn about these beautiful birds and why they are important. What a great opportunity to observe these awesome birds up close! Aves Wildlife Alliance will also have a booth from 10:00 am- 1:00 pm where you can ask questions and learn more about birds.

Third on the schedule, at 12:00 pm, is Rob Zimmer, nature writer and radio show host, who will give a beautiful presentation about Snowy Owls, an incredible bird of prey that graces us with its presence in winter. (No live owl, however.)

Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter will be selling native plants that are beneficial to birds. These plants are healthy and well suited to our area. Members will be on hand to offer guidance on planting natives in your yard.
​Educational and fun children’s activities will take place from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. 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! Sponsored by Oshkosh Zoo Society, look for these activities in a new location this year between Shelter #1 and 2.

From 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, while they last, build a wren house to take home and hang in your back yard. One per family, please. A $5.00 donation is appreciated. Only 50 houses available. WAVE Robotics team members will help you build your house.
Got bird questions? We’ve got answers! From 8:00 am – 1:00 pm check out the informative exhibits about bird migration and identification, landscaping with native plants, habitat restoration, bluebirds, purple martins, bird habitat and more. Exhibitors include Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, Menominee Park Shoreland Restoration Project, Oshkosh Sustainability Advisory Board, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter, Winnebago Audubon, Winnebago County Land and Water Conservation Dept., and Wisconsin Purple Martin Association. Mid-Wisconsin Chippers Club will also have a display of bird carvings.
Concessions available from 4H Interstate Exchange Program from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm at Shelter #2.
The bird theme continues into the evening at Oshkosh Gallery Walk from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Oshkosh Bird Fest will be at the Oshkosh Masonic Center and will feature an Oshkosh Area School District Student Bird Art Exhibit plus bird rehabilitator Ann Rosenberg with a Great Horned Owl. This is a wonderful opportunity to see an owl up close and ask questions.

New this year and joining us at the Masonic Center, is “Artists of Oshkosh Bird Fest 2019”.  These fine artists, photographers and craftsmen will display and sell their beautiful artwork on the main floor.

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, and Winnebago Audubon. It is entirely funded by donations. Oshkosh was awarded recognition as a Bird City Wisconsin in 2010, and recertified in 2018 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, Winnebago Audubon, Oshkosh Zoological Society, Fifth Ward Brewing, Thrivent Financial, Provident Financial Consultants, and Steinert Printing Co. 

For all the details, visit our website at www.oshkoshbirdfest.com. You may also like to test your bird knowledge with our daily bird quiz on the Oshkosh Bird Fest Facebook page.

Photo of Cedar Waxwing by Roy Toepke.


About Author

Janet Wissink

Janet Wissink is currently president of Winnebago Audubon, chair of Oshkosh Bird Fest planning committee, and co-coordinator of Project SOAR (Snowy Owl Airport Rescue). She loves bird watching, prairies and exploring the natural world.

1 Comment

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    Hi Janet,
    Sorry we won’t be able to join you this Sat. We would love to hear more about this. Hopefully you will have great weather. Love the sign in our yard

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