Always Bring Binoculars

March 11, 2009

Getting caught without binoculars is, to a birder, a “cardinal sin.” That’s according to Andy Paulios, a DNR bird conservationist recently featured on Wisconsin Public Television’s On the Trail: An In Wisconsin Special. While Paulios may not have intended the pun, he is serious about protecting bird habitats in Wisconsin–both on public and private lands.

In Wisconsin producer Jo Garrett followed Paulios to Cook Arboretum for a segment of the program, which airs on WPT Thursday, March 12, 7:00 p.m. Carrying binoculars might be a nature lover’s version of the Scout motto, “Be prepared,” but experienced birders come to rely on their ears at least as much as their eyes, Paulios says. An acadian flycatcher, for example, will trill “peet-zaah!” and an Eastern towhee will loudly chirp “drink-your-TEEEA!” (Surely, though, the Wisconsin translation of towhee-speak must be “cheddar CHEEESE!”)

Cook Arboretum near Janesville is a stopping point on the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail that links the best places for observing birds and other wildlife around the state. In Wisconsin viewers can follow the trail with Garrett to see and hear great blue herons, saw whet owls, sandhill cranes and other birds that make their home here–and just this once, no binoculars necessary. It’s well worth a watch, especially for those who crave the birdsong of spring after a long Wisconsin winter. (The entire special is streamed online as well.)

As for the trail, it reaches every area of Wisconsin by highway. Maps and guides are available through the Department of Natural Resources.