Washington Islands Birding Festival
May 16th - May 19th, 2019


Letter to Birders

This is the second year of our birding festival. Our 2018 festival was a great success and 2019 festival will be even better. We hope you will join us for this wonderful time of birding in small groups with experienced guides on these beautiful Islands. Washington, Plum and Rock Islands are on a flyway where thousands of birds come through every year on this particular weekend. At the 2018 festival we totaled 146 species on our check list. 

We urge you to make your lodging reservations as soon as possible as it can be tight this time of year. A list of open hotels, motels, inns, campground, etc. along with a list of open restaurants and the ferry schedule is available on the Washington Island Chamber of Commerce website: www.washingtonisland.com 

The festival will be limited in size. We will accept 60 registrations and maintain a waiting list in case of cancellations. 

Check-in for the festival will be manned Thursday afternoon (12 noon to 5pm) and all day Friday and Saturday in the Rutledge room at the Community Center on Main Road. You may also check in at the Washington Hotel Friday evening. Those arriving late Friday night can check in at the Rutledge Room early Saturday morning. 

We will do our best to stick to our schedule. Birding on the Islands goes rain or shine. You might also want to bring a scope if you have one, a chair for the big sits, insect repellent and of course, your binoculars. Please also be aware of the danger of ticks in some of the habitats you will be visiting. Proper clothing is a must. You might also want to bring some snacks to take with you on the birding outings. 

Our boat trips to Rock and Plum Islands are weather and wind dependent. If you don’t wish to join us on these excursions there will be alternative opportunities to bird on Washington Island. If the weather/wind/waves prevent us from taking our boat trips we will also offer alternate birding activities. 

If you have any questions that are not covered in this registration material please contact: Chari Rutledge at 920-912-7666 or chari@therutledges.com 

We are looking forward to seeing you at our Washington Islands Birding Festival!!! 

Sponsored by: The Art & Nature Center, U.S Fish & Wildlife, The Washington Island Ferry Line 

Washington Island has been designated a “Bird City”. 

2019 Birding Festival Schedule

12 noon to 5 p.m. Check-in office open Rutledge Room at the Community Center
910 Main Road. See signage on road.
8 am to 3:30 pm Check-in and Dispatch Office open
coffee, fruit & breakfast bars
Rutledge Room at the Community Center
910 Main Road. See signage on road.
8:30 am to 11:30 am Bird Banding & Birding on
Washington Island
Banding at Potato Dock. Birding Groups
leave from the Potato Dock.
Lunch Lunch on your own A list of open restaurants is in your
check-in packet.
1:30 pm Reassemble Rutledge Room Parking Lot
1:30 pm to 4:00 pm Birding Opportunities Leave from Rutledge Room parking lot
4:30pm to 6:00 pm Wine & appetizers and check-in
for late arrivals & those who have
selected this option.
Hotel Washington
354 Range Line Road
6:30 pm Dinner on your own or Fish Boil
at KK Fiske
A list of open restaurants is in your
check-in packet
5:30 am to 4:00 pm Check-in & Dispatch Office open
coffee, fruit & breakfast bars
Rutledge Room
6:40 am Be at the dock to board the
boat to Plum Island
Park behind the Welcome Center near the ferry
dock on Lobdell Point Road and walk to the
Island Clipper dock.
7:00 am Boat leaves at 7:00 am SHARP! From the Island Clipper dock
7:00 am to 12 noon Birding and Banding on Plum Island
12:00 pm Boat leaves Plum at 12:00 pm SHARP! From the Plum Island Dock
7:00 am to 12 pm Washington Island birding for those
not going to Plum Island
Leave from the Rutledge Room parking lot
Unguided groups
12:30 pm to 2:30 pm Lunch on your own A list of open restaurants is in your
check-in packet
2:30 pm Reassemble Rutledge Room parking lot
2:30 pm to 4:00 pm Birding on Washington Island Small groups to various habitats
5:30 pm Dinner at Nelson's Hall For those who have selected this option.
7:00 pm Program Trueblood Performing Arts Center (TPAC)
6:30 am Meet at Jackson Harbor Rock Island State Park parking lot
1924 Indian Point Rd
7:00 am Boat leaves at 7:00 am sharp! Banding & Small groups to various habitats
7:15 am to 12:00 pm Bird Rock Island Banding & Small groups to various habitats
11:45 am Be at the dock to board the Karfi!
12:00 pm Boat leves Rock 12:00 SHARP!
7:00 am to 12:00 pm Birding on Washington Island for
those not going to Rock Island
Big sits, group or single birding, on your own

We hope you enjoy the festival!

You may continue birding on Washington Island on your own this afternoon.
Note: In case of inclement weather, alternate programs will be listed in the Rutledge Room.

Birding Festival Registration

2019 WI Birding Festival Registration

Registration Fee  - $40

Optional Add-Ons:
- Hotel Washington (cash bar) - $10
Friday Fish Boil -
(cash bar) - $18
Saturday Dinner - (cash bar) - $24
All meal prices include tips.

Please use separate registration form for each person.
Registration deadline is April 20, 2019. Cancellation Refunds will be made up to May 1st less $10.00 handling fee.  No refunds after May 1st.

Please select any meal options if you are interested below. When you are ready to checkout, please proceed to the shopping cart at the top right of the page.

Register and Pay Online
Add to Cart
Friday Night Fish Boil
Add To Cart
Saturday Night Dinner
Add To Cart

You may also register by downloading the form below, print and fill it out, and mail it with your payment to: Laura Waldron, 1799 Main Road, Washington Island, WI 54246. 

Birding Guide Bios

Jeff Bahls

Jeff lives in rural Dodge County, Wisconsin where he put up his first bird house at age 7. He is very familiar with Horicon Marsh where he works part time for the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources. Jeff has been a member of Horicon Marsh Bird club for the past 22 years and is the current President. He currently sits on the board of the Wood Duck Society, a nationwide organization devoted placement and care of wood duck boxes and wood duck habitat.  Jeff was a member of Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2007 search team, for Ivory Billed Woodpecker in Arkansas. He also spends time hunting, fishing and paddling his kayak. Favorite Bird:  Wood Duck 

Suzanne Bahls

Suzanne Bahls was first introduced to birds by her Grandmother spending summers in the family cabin near the Boundary Waters in MN . Suzanne's rekindled interest in birding about 12 years ago when she met her husband, Jeff. She is a member of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club and WSO.  She currently serves as the treasurer for the Horicon Marsh Bird Club. Suzanne has attended birding festivals across across the Midwest and Florida .. She assists Jeff in monitoring the 40+ Wood duck and Blue bird nest boxes around their property in rural Beaver Dam.WI.  Suzanne has participated in the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, numerous Christmas bird counts and other citizen science programs. Suzanne also enjoys kayaking, bike riding and hiking, or anything else that gets her outside looking for birds.

Donna Benson

Grew up in the Chicago, Illinois area and once married, traveled and hiked extensively throughout the southwest area of the U.S., and Western and Eastern Europe. Started birding occasionally in 1978, while hiking the Portal and Patagonia areas of Arizona, but in earnest in 2010 when we moved to Washington Island full

time.  We built our house on the island in 1980.  Have participated in Breeding Bird Atlas’, Great Backyard Bird Counts, Christmas Bird Counts, regularly use eBird.  I monitor my own Bluebird boxes and have participated in Eagle bandings here and on Rock Island.  Increased my life list while attending a Road Scholar Birding Tour in the Florida Everglades, the Keys and the Dry Tortugas. Favorite bird:  Eastern Bluebird

Terrie Cooper

 I grew up in Ellison Bay and have had the pleasure of working for the Door County Land Trust for the past 18 years.  I’ve been birding for 20+ years, but prefer scoping for waterfowl on the lake.  For many years I worked as a bird rehabilitator. Favorite Bird:  Raptors of all types

Seth Cutright

I have been watching birds for thirty years. Much of my early birding included observing migratory raptors. For several years, I even traveled around as a paid hawk counter. I also enjoy bird photography, including birds and raptors in flight. Over the years I have helped educate the public about birds in several ways including giving presentations about birds and guiding bird watching tours. While birding is my main hobby, I have an interest in landscape and horticulture. I ended up studying landscape design at Milwaukee Area Technical College, with a focus on designing with native plants. Favorite bird:  Peregrine Falcon

Eric Howe

Serves as an eBird reviewer for Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties.  He is on the board of the Hoy Audubon Society (hoyaudubon.org) and the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund (chiwaukee.org).  Eric coordinates the Racine and Palmyra Christmas Bird Counts, volunteers with point counts for the Wisconsin Marshbird Survey and runs the Paris, Raymond, and Washington Island Breeding Bird Survey routes.  He is involve with the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II as an atlaser, Racine county coordinator, and volunteers with the WBBA II point counts.  Eric’s interest in birding began in the mid-90s soon after joining Hoy (thanks to several mentors) and has developed over the years into a passion he now shares with his wife, Kristin Wegner.  They enjoy birding new regions but also love birding locally. Favorite Bird:  Eastern Screech Owl 

Paul Noeldner

 Born on a farm in Clark County, Wisconsin.  I’ve birded my whole life since a kid (60+ years!).  Barb and I live in Maple Bluff where I help organize and lead year round bird & nature outings, after school kids outings, and teach a Master Naturalist Class in Dane County, Wisconsin. Favorite Bird:  Red-bellied Woodpecker

 Rebecca Sher

I have always enjoyed exploring the natural world. One of my first hobbies was astronomy. Since then I have gotten into birding the last several years. With this I am now currently president of the Sheboygan County Audubon Society. When not watching birds, you will likely find me viewing and enjoying all other wildlife. Favorite bird: Chimney Swift

Carl Schroeder

Carl became a life long birder after receiving a Peterson's field guide from his grandmother for his ninth birthday. His Grandma Been was his closest birding friend throughout his teen years and they spent many hours happily exploring the birds and wildflowers of the Crex Meadows of Burnett County.  He majored in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin, taught Science at Sevastopol School in Door County and was the Naturalist for Peninsula State Park in 1978, He earned an MBA at the University of Chicago. Carl has birded in 40 states, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, China, Thailand and India compiling a life list of 630 U.S. birds and nearly 1,200 worldwide. He lives today in Kiel with his wife of 43 years. They have 4 children and 10 grandchildren but so far no birdwatchers.

Mike Wanger

“Mike loves birds.”  So his Mom wrote in his baby book.  Now semi-retired in Milwaukee, he’s been able to enjoy his passion almost daily for the last six years.  Mike is presently a reviewer for eBird and is the Milwaukee County coordinator for the State of Wisconsin’s five-year Breeding Bird Atlas II survey.  He enjoys exploring this beautiful planet, and is always excited to introduce others to the joy of birding. Favorite Bird:  “The one I’m looking at right now!”

Melody Walsh

Retired on Washington Island after a 32 year career with the Department of Natural Resources.  Always enjoyed fishing, hiking, camping, hunting morels, photography, and being outdoors. I became a Bird Nerd in 2013 and enjoy the camaraderie of birding.  Observing, identifying, photographing, and sharing the sightings are what is appealing.  I am an avid e-Bird user, which led me to the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II program in 2015.  The majority of my birding is done through a camera lens. Favorite Bird:Bobolink, but basically anything with feathers

Kristin Wegner

Interest in birds began one day in May when she was hiking and found herself surrounded by colorful, unfamiliar birds hopping through the trees.  Driven to figure out what they were she bought a bird guide, then binoculars, then before long she was roaming forest preserves just to look for birds.  In her quest to see new species, Kristin attended a Hoy Audubon Society beach birding event, where she met her future husband, Eric Howe.  Birding led to friendship, then partnership, and they were married on Washington Island.  Kristin has a talent for finding birds in odd places, such as the Common Ground-Dove she found on Rock Island during their honeymoon! Favorite Bird:Eastern Screech Owl

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Saturday Night Program


Right here in Wisconsin

We are delighted to present Reena Bowman, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist who is based in Green Bay. She coordinates the Piping Plover recovery program for Wisconsin. Reena has a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. The recovery program has been a great success. A quote from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service article: “It’s another groundbreaking year for endangered Great Lakes Piping Plovers in Lower Green Bay. Four pairs nested at the Cat Island Chain this year, fledging six chicks, just a year after a pair nested at the site for the first time in more than 75 years and successfully fledged three chicks.” This is very exciting and we are so pleased Reena will be at our festival to tell us her story Saturday evening at the Trueblood Preforming Arts Center. If you ar e interested in reading more about this program you can access an article at: www.fws.gov/midwest/news/CatIslandPlovers.html

2018 Washington Islands Festival Bird List