When you hear that bright Baltimore oriole
singing in your yard this spring, know that you have had a hand in keeping it alive. As a Zoological Society member, you have contributed to a bird conservation-education-research project that reaches 1,400 miles across two countries.
That project—called Birds Without Borders- Aves Sin Fronteras®—celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006. Its success has gone far beyond what we originally expected, and now the project is branching out to help other wildlife—and to help humans, too.
The original impetus for the project was the decline in song- birds. These lovely birds are an important part of our ecosystem. Their decline could be a warning sign for the human species. So in 1996 Dr. Gil Boese, then president of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM), founded BWB-ASF as a joint project of the non-profit ZSM and its conservation partner, the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, Inc. (FWC). Dr. Boese hired researcher Vicki Piaskowski to be international coordinator of the project.
Last June BWB-ASF celebrated its anniversary by noting its success with each of its four goals. At a party held at Dragonfly Farm and bird habitat in Mequon, hosted by farm owners and BWB-ASF supporters Cheryl and Mark Brickman, Piaskowski and Dr. Boese summarized their success:
Goal No. 1: to do research on migratory and resident birds in Wisconsin and Belize in hopes of discovering what habitats are important to birds during all stages of their life cycle and how we can help them. Since 1997, 10,140 birds have been
Alive WINTER 2007
Mequon Mayor Christine Nuernberg (second from left) and her husband, Rob (far left), helped celebrate the 10th anniversary of Birds Without Borders – Aves Sin Fronteras® with Cheryl and Mark Brickman, who hosted 65 guests at their Dragonfly Farm and bird habitat on June 21, 2006.
banded at three Wisconsin study sites (Pewaukee, Rosendale and Land O’ Lakes). This number is simi- lar to the numbers of birds banded at large bird observatories, Piaskowski said. In Belize, since 1999 more than 4,500 birds have been banded at our three Belize study sites. The research has resulted in eight research papers published (or accepted for publication) in scientific journals, and more in preparation.
Goal No. 2: to apply the research results to conservation by compiling recommendations for landowners on how land can be managed to benefit birds. A 106-page guide for Belize landowners will be published by BWB-ASF in Belize this year, and a PDF of that report is now available on the ZSM’s Web site: http://www.zoosociety.org/bzlandowner. Piaskowski said that a second guide, for Wisconsin, is in the works.
Goal No. 3: to educate children and adults about birds. “Since 1997, we have given more than 100 educational outreach talks and bird-banding demonstrations to the general public and schoolchildren in both Wisconsin and Belize,” said Piaskowski. In addition, the ZSM presented bird-science classes to children in grades six through nine in 14 schools in Wisconsin, Michigan and