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Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

WSO New Member Spotlight: Caitlyn Schuchhardt

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I live in Madison, WI, and have  lived in Wisconsin for six years. I only began birding last summer, and I am so grateful for everything that birding has brought to my life—new opportunities, new friends, and a new appreciation for the world around me. I work part-time as the Communications and Outreach Assistant at Madison Audubon. When I’m not busy getting people excited about birds, I also work at a local foods cooperative.

How would you describe yourself as a birder?

Unabashedly enthusiastic. Curious. Friendly. I am that birder that wanders around looking wonderstruck, ever-amazed at the beauty and talent of birds. I love to learn and improve my birding skills, so I often spend a lot of time standing in one spot, studying a bird or trying to recognize its call. I also love to meet and connect with other birders—I owe so much to Madison’s birding community! Please feel free to say hi if you see me out and about.

What are your favorite places to bird in Wisconsin?

I do most of my birding in the Madison area. My favorite spot is the north unit of Cherokee Marsh. It was a favorite of mine before I was a birder and now I appreciate it even more. I also enjoy the UW-Arboretum and Lakeshore Nature preserve. Dane County has so many fantastic birding spots, and it feels like I’m introduced to a new one every day! 

Do you have a favorite bird? If so, why that bird?

It’s so tough to choose! My “spark bird” was a green heron. On my first bird walk, I watched one hunt along the edge of some cattails and it blew my mind when it stuck its long neck out—like, where did that neck come from?! I love birds that surprise me. Brown creepers also make my favorites list; their camouflage gets me every time.

What led you to join the WSO?

I joined WSO at the recommendation of fellow birders and friends. I heard wonderful things about the resources that WSO provides for the birding community and the work they do to support bird conservation. I wanted to join a community of bird-lovers who care about supporting Wisconsin’s birds as much as I do.

Have you had a recent memorable experience while birding?

At the beginning of May, there was an absolutely beautiful Saturday where I experienced the overwhelming joy of getting sixteen lifers in one day! Yep, sixteen! This has been my first time experiencing spring migration in full as a birder and it has been phenomenal. I have been soaking in the beauty of warblers and loving every minute of it. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself with fellow WSO members?

I write Madison Audubon’s new Entryway to Birding blog series, which you can find on the Madison Audubon website under the “Birding” tab. We started this blog as a resource for new birders as they navigate this rewarding (but sometimes intimidating!) hobby. As a new birder myself, I’ve relied heavily on field trips and group bird walks to improve my skills, but the pandemic has changed all that this spring. My hope is that this blog will motivate more folks to take comfort in birds during this strange time, and to stick with this hobby even when it gets challenging. If you know any new or aspiring birders out there, please send them my way!