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Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey

What to Expect at the Survey

Volunteers work in teams to sample birds at permanent points representing the major habitat types within the eastern Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. No special birding expertise is necessary. All teams are led by experienced expert birders, and there are plenty of jobs for everyone from navigation between sites, writing down observations, or setting up and running the recording equipment. Special sets of easy-access sites will be available for birders who are not able to walk long distances or through difficult terrain.

What should I bring?

Volunteers in protective mosquito gear. Photo by R. Howe.

Volunteers should bring the same things they would bring for a hiking trip in northern Wisconsin. Warm, weatherproof clothing including waterproof boots and extra socks are essential. Mosquitoes and ticks are part of the northern forest ecosystem so be sure to bring insect repellant and/or mosquito netting. Even though we stay in cabins you will need to bring a sleeping bag or your own sheets, pillow and linens as these are not available at the camps. Binoculars and bird guides are of course, very useful to bring. And don't forget your travel mug or water bottle.

Download a supplies checklist.

What happens when I get to camp?

On Friday afternoon volunteers arrive at camp, register and find their housing. At 7 pm there is an organizational meeting to set up teams and choose sites for the next day.

Saturday starts early with coffee, juice, muffins, pastries, and fruit. Teams set out in time to reach their first sites by 5 am. Surveying continues until about 9 am, after which volunteers return to camp to tabulate data. After eating a hearty lunch, volunteers are free to enjoy the afternoon. Depending on the year and camp location, there will be optional expert led field trips, dragonfly surveys, or opportunities to fish, hike, or swim. However, many just enjoy a well earned nap. Following a dinner buffet, there is a presentation related to bird conservation, and prizes are awarded for the most interesting and unusual sightings from the morning survey. The evening ends with a group campfire, and most volunteers turn in early.

Sunday morning begins early, just like Saturday. After volunteers return and turn in their survey data, it is time to break camp. The survey is officially over around noon.



3:00-6:30 pm Registration (Camp Headquarters) and camp set-up
6:00 pm Site Package begins (Camp Headquarters via lottery)
7:00-8:00 pm Organizational meeting (Camp Headquarters)
8:00-9:00 pm Group logistics (set meeting place, travel plan, etc.)


4:45-9:00 am Bird censuses (leave camp at ~ 3:30-4:00 a.m.)
9:00-10:00 am Transcribe data (at camp)
11:00-11:30 am Lunch  and Announcements (Camp Headquarters)
11:00-1:30 pm Siesta
1:30-4:30 pm Optional Activities or Field Trips
5:30-6:30 pm Dinner
6:30-7:30 pm Contests and awards
7:30-8:30 pm Presentation
8:30-9:00 pm Campfire


4:45-9:00 am Bird censuses (leave camp at ~ 3:30-4:00 a.m.)
9:00-10:00 am Transcribe data (at camp)
11:00-11:30 am Break camp


Please contact the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at or 920-465-5032 for more information.