Cutright's Old Coots (Signature Team) Fundraising Page
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MAKING PLANS FOR THE BIRDATHON Noel Cutright (left) and Carl Schwartz discussed plans for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon before Noel's death in 2013. Noel was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame in Stevens Point in 2016. -- Photo by Nancy Nabak

     Birds need our help -- now more than ever -- so we set a bold goal

Cutright’s Old Coots are 5 people who strongly believe just what it says on the main page of The Great Wisconsin Birdathon web site: birds are valuable and need our help. That’s why we have been proud to be part of an effort by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin that has raised more than $200,000 for bird protection in Wisconsin since 2012.

And we have done it because people like you – those of you reading this page right now – have agreed that birds are valuable and in need of your help, too. You helped these Old Coots raise $6,535 in 2015 and then you dug deeper last year and helped our team alone raise $8,987.

So it’s that support that has given us the hope and courage to raise our 2017 goal to $10,000.

You can make a pledge or donate a flat amount to our effort to observe at least 155 bird species in just 24 hours and raise at least $10,000. This secure site takes care of the rest, including handling the pledges and notifying the Coots of your donation. (And if you want to write a check, it provides an easy way to do that instead.)

* Make a flat donation by clicking on CREDIT CARD or CASH on the left.


* PLEDGE an amount per species by clicking on one of the Coots' pages  (under Team Member)

Birds do so much to improve our lives; this is one important way we can give back to them. And you can do it all online and still get a detailed account of Big Day nonstop birding.

Birds need our help now more than ever as they fly into strong political headwinds nationally and in Wisconsin as we struggle to deal with the issues of habitat loss, outdoor cats, window collisions, lead poisoning, overuse of pesticides and public indifference to all of the above.

That’s why every year since 2012 we have enlisted as many friends, family and colleagues as possible to support a team for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Hawkeye and the Ancient Murrelets helped to launch that effort. But then in 2013 our young Hawkeye Seth Cutright went back to school, and ornithologist and dear friend Noel Cutright passed away. So in 2014 we recruited two new teammates to form Cutright's Old Coots, to honor Noel and continue our support of the Bird Protection Fund. By 2015 we had added a 5th teammate and raised our fundraising goal to $6,000.

That same fivesome will be setting out for a third year on May 11, during the peak of migration, on a route across southeast Wisconsin, with a goal of finding at least 155 species (we’ve seen between 154 and 165 each of the last five years).

Again we are using state-of-the-art online tools to support the Bird Protection Fund, which backs important conservation projects that are particularly close to my heart, including Bird City Wisconsin (now with 101 communities statewide), the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Program and the second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas.

Here’s a little more background on the Coots:

Tom Uttech – Noted landscape artist, WSO member and Cutright Bird Club member

Marilyn Bontly -- Schlitz Audubon, WSO and Cutright Bird Club member

Joan Sommer -- Former WSO bookstore operator and Cutright Bird Club member

Mike Wanger -- Milwaukee County coordinator for Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

Carl Schwartz -- Bird City Wisconsin steering committee chair, former WSO president

And here’s a little more background on the Birdathon:

The Great Wisconsin Birdathon was hatched in 2012 as a pilot project by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI) and the Natural Resources Foundation (NRF) to raise the profile of birds and bird conservation statewide. By working together, WBCI's 178 partners can do more for birds collectively than any one partner can do on its own ( The Birdathon is a way for those who care about Wisconsin’s birds to support programs that help meet their full life-cycle needs.

Last year, the Bird Protection Fund disbursed $60,000 from the birdathon to these priority projects:

$7,500 to the Wisconsin Bird Monitoring Program, for personnel to monitor marsh birds, raptors, nightjars, and more.

$11,100 to Bird City Wisconsin for programs in its 99 communities.

$6,500 to the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative for programs supporting migratory bird stopover habitat protection.

$4,650 to the Wisconsin Kirtland's Warbler Project for personnel to monitor warbler nests.

$9,300 for interns in the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Program .

$6,000 for personnel in the Important Bird Areas-Southern Forests & Greater Prairie Chicken programs.

$4,650 for the education program "Aula Verde" in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica

$8,900 for personnel to conduct surveys for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II.

Noel Cutright (1943‐2013) 

A well‐known and much‐admired Wisconsin ornithologist, Dr. Noel Cutright devoted his personal and professional life to bird conservation, citizen science, and ecological restoration. After receiving his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University, he worked for We Energies in Wisconsin for 29 years. As their Senior Terrestrial Ecologist, he promoted numerous environmental projects and initiatives throughout the energy industry. (To learn more about these projects and We‐Energies’ commitment to environmental protection, see www.we‐ As president and project leader for the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Cutright galvanized and advanced the organization’s research, science and conservation efforts. He was senior editor of the landmark Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. As a long‐term advisor to the WDNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he promoted the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, the State Natural Areas Program, and neotropical migratory bird conservation efforts. He helped to create the Bird City Wisconsin Program (now recognizing 96 communities statewide); to develop management plans to restore populations of Osprey, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Trumpeter Swans and Bluebirds; and to establish State Natural Areas in Wisconsin and Neotropic Nature Reserves in Belize and Costa Rica. He received prestigious awards from the WDNR, Gathering Waters Conservancy, and Milwaukee Audubon Society. As an educator, he shared his knowledge and deep love of the natural world, inspiring countless “new conservationists” to work together to restore and protect ecosystems locally and globally.

Our fundraising goal: $10,000

$3,798 raised so far   $6,202 to go!

WDNR Photos

THE ARTIST AT WORK Tom Uttech both birds and paints from his studio barn outside Saukville

JOAN SOMMER and MARILYN BONTLY In 2014, Joan and Marilyn joined two of the Ancient Murrelets to form a new team, "Cutright's Old Coots."

CARL SCHWARTZ Carl, a former WSO president who now edits The Badger Birder and chairs the Bird City Wisconsin steering committee, is captain of the Old Coots.

MIKE WANGER Mike joined the Old Coots team in 2015. He is Milwaukee County coordinator for the second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas.

Cutright's Old Coots at Haskell Noyes Woods in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest on May 18, 2016

This White-eyed Vireo photographed by Mike Wanger was a 2016 trip highlight

Noel Cutright was senior editor of the first Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas.