2018 is Year of the Bird – and Birding Tours at Nature Nooks Retreat!

National Geographic is joining with dozens of bird-centric organizations, such as Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology to celebrate 2018 as the Year of the Bird!

What is the Year of the Bird?

2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. Turns out, bird watchers in the US back then saw the need for awareness and action in response to over-hunting and bird habitat degradation and destruction.

Why is it so important to protect birds?

You’ve heard of the canary in the mine, right? It’s not just a metaphor for dangerous mining conditions. In fact, when we take active steps to protect birds, in particular migratory birds, it turns out those actions and policies are also important for so many other aspects of the web of life.

Thomas Lovejoy, Biologist and Godfather of Biodiversity, says it elegantly and simply – “IF YOU TAKE CARE OF BIRDS, YOU TAKE CARE OF MOSt OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD.”

May at NNR

It gets downright noisy here at Nature Nooks Retreat in May, especially in early morning, with raucous migratory flocks passing through and sometimes stopping briefly. For example, we had a dozen trumpeter swans here for part of a morning one day last spring!

Honestly, I sometimes despair of getting good at identifying them. It’s hard to spot them! And they all sing and call over one another! But you know, I am getting better. We’ve hosted a few birding events here at Nature Nooks Retreat, and I add a few species every year to those I can feel confident about naming by sight and sound.

We are lucky to count among our friends Craig Thompson, who is an excellent – let me say amazing – birder. (See his bio below.) We are delighted that he will be offering private tours here at NNR in May, during migration. So if you want to tune up your skills, along with a friend or four, we’ve got an opportunity for you!

Here’s what Craig says:

“May birding at Nature Nooks will be a delightful experience. The rich mosaic of habitats offers a bounty of dazzling birds. Woodlands, wetlands and prairies provide safe haven for resident species and passage migrants returning to their breeding haunts in boreal Canada. Dazzling warblers, melodious thrushes and acrobatic flycatchers are all possibilities. We’ll also explore the property’s verdant nooks and crannies to find secretive cuckoos, wrens and vireos. Be prepared for sensory overload!”

Email or call (608-637-3928) if you’d like more info and to schedule a tour during May here at NNR.

And do check into what you can do for birds in 2018 Year of the Bird.


Craig Thompson is a lifelong conservationist with a keen interest in birds. For years he has worked in state, national and international bird conservation arenas. Craig holds Adjunct Faculty positions at The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and Viterbo University and has taught ornithology, rainforest ecology and conservation biology. He serves as a Board member for the Costa Rican-based Osa Conservation, as a technical adviser for the Los Amigos Bird Observatory in southeast Peru and as founder and instructor for Bird Conservation Boot Camp. For more than twenty years he has led conservation birding tours to the wilds of Latin America. There’s nothing he loves more than connecting people to birds.

Craig lives on Wisconsin’s west coast with his wife, Mary, two mischievous dogs and a yard full of cool birds.





Welcome to the NNR Journal

OUR CHARTER: To protect and enhance biodiversity and carrying capacity,
and to create a means of sharing an appreciation for and a sense of belonging to Nature.

Introducing the Nature Nooks Retreat Journal!

Yes, you can get a snapshot view of what we are about here at Nature Nooks Retreat from our website, or from our occasional video posts on facebook. But really, we are serious about the Charter that appears at the top of this page, and which will head each entry in this blog, our new journal. While we hope our entries will be entertaining for our visitors – actual, potential and virtual – they will be more in-depth for those who really are interested, and at the same time, they will help us record our progress in being the best stewards to this land that we can be.

We initiated several projects in the last two years – streambank stabilization, STRIPS for sediment and nutrient trapping, establishment of new prairie and a new constructed open wetland/marsh. Those will be covered in some of the first entries, and then we’ll go back in time, a few years to a few decades. We will definitely spice it up with photos, and we’ll alert fb users to new entries with a link on our facebook page (in case you want to like us). We’ll place a hard copy of each entry in our cabins, so folks who are actually here can connect words on a page to the water, the plant life, and the wildlife.

And always, we’ll welcome your comments!