Brew City Birding Festival Features Virtual & In-Person Bird Watching Events All Across Milwaukee
The 5th annual Brew City Birding Festival kicks off on Tuesday, May 4. The event, hosted by the Urban Ecology Center, offers a week of bird-themed lectures, field trips and activities for the whole family.
Ethan Bott is geographic information systems (GIS) and field data coordinator at the Urban Ecology Center and will be helping put on events throughout the week.
“Some of our in-person events range from bird walks at all three of the branches, we have a birding by canoe, we have a bird and brew,” he explains. “Then we have a slew of virtual lectures and events.”
Bott says he is excited for a virtual lecture on Friday afternoon that will introduce birders of all experience levels to eBird, an app and website designed to help find and track birds. He says because of the pandemic, digital birding technology has become incredibly popular but it can be daunting to use at first.
“Back in the day, your checklist would be written down on a piece of paper for the location, the time and the species you saw and now it’s so easy to use this app just to be able to add all your observations within a minute or two,” he says.
But research and community science coordinator Maggie Steinhauer says new apps aren’t for everyone and a pen and paper can still provide a fun birding experience.
“If you’re not super interested in the technology aspect of it, even just taking out like a journal and just sitting down and observing different movements, different colors, different sizes of birds and then researching, kind of, after the fact," she says.
They say you don’t need to travel far to find interesting birds — even just looking in your backyard or around your neighborhood, you can find blue jays, orioles, warblers and hummingbirds.
Bott recommends putting out half an orange or cleaning off a bird feeder to entice visiting birds. “Probably the oriole and the hummingbird will be two easily identifiable species that will be in many of your backyards and parks in Milwaukee,” he says.
The final event of the Brew City Birding Festival is the Backyard Birding Blitz on Saturday and it encourages all Milwaukeeans to go outside, either in their backyard or on a walk around the neighborhood, to find as many birds as possible without using fossil fuels. There will be challenges for all ages.
“Following kind of the more adult geared competition, or challenge I should say, will be a more family oriented scavenger hunt and activities like that in the afternoon,” Steinhauer says.