Selecting a Bird of the Day for the Amberg route was difficult - too many good possibilities, but I finally chose an interesting species for the North Woods. I recorded the first cardinal on this route in 2001 and this year's singing bird at stop 2 makes it 4 consecutive years. One of the audience reactions I enjoy most when I give a presentation is when I mention that the first pair of cardinals nested in Waukesha Co. (immediately west of Milwaukee Co.) in 1939. Most of the reactions from the audience are ones of genuine surprise. I think that most folks in WI believe that cardinals have been residents in the state forever.
The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas documented breeding within the northern-most tier of counties, although cardinals remain quite uncommon in this region. A Christmas Bird Count was conducted in Florence Co. for the first time in January 2003, and on that count and again this January, cardinals were tallied within the 15-mile-diameter count circle.
The BBS has done an excellent job of tracking the state's burgeoning population since 1966. In the 1966-79 period, the population in WI expanded at an annual rate of 2.2%; since then the pace has quickened to a 3.3% annual increase. This increasing trend for BBS data has been slightly slower in MI and even greater in MN. Which states show the greatest abundance of cardinals on BBSs over the 1966-2002 timeframe? - Louisiana - 62 individuals/route; Mississippi - 48, and Alabama - 47. For comparison, the number for WI is only 7.