We've planned an unforgettable weekend of fun in Wisconsin, home of Eagle Optics.

What do Aldo Leopold's cabin, a behind-the-scenes tour of the International Crane Foundation, birding along a Wisconsin lakeshore, a free optics evaluation, a sparrow ID workshop, eating cheese curds, and Ben Lizdas' charcoal-grilled sausages have in common? They are all things you can experience at the Bird Watcher's Digest Reader Rendezvous in Middleton, Wisconsin, October 17-19, 2014!

That's right, Ben Lizdas, optics guru of Eagle Optics, will be grilling dinner for all of us on Friday night, October 17, before we get to experience all of those other wonderful things listed above.

Why Attend?

Eagle Optics is the leading retailer of optics for the bird watching market. As co-host of this Rendezvous, the Eagle Optics staff will be available to answer your optics questions, share recommendations on products, and, yes, sell you some new optics if you are lo oking to make a purchase. They're even arranging some special discounts for our Rendezvous participants!

But now, we're adding even more expertise with Diane and Michael Porter, optics experts and the authors of BWD's many hands-on optics field tests. This special Reader Rendezvous will give BWD subscribers a unique opportunity to spend time surrounded by birding optics and optics experts!

Schedule Overview

Friday afternoon you'll pick up your swag bag and name tag at the Reader Rendezvous registration desk. Then we'll gather over at the Eagle Optics offices for a Wisconsin-style cookout and social hour, during which the Porters, along with Bird Watcher's Digest Editor Bill Thompson, III, will offer you a free optics evaluation and cleaning. After a few words of welcome from the Rendezvous staff and attendee introductions, we'll enjoy a scrumptious dinner and a short program from the Eagle Optics team on trends in birding optics. Afterwards we'll discuss target birds and the weekend's schedule.

Saturday we're up with the roosters for a hotel breakfast, then it's off to two fascinating points of interest to the north, near Baraboo. First, we'll get a behind-the-scenes tour of the International Crane Foundation, which is the only place in the world where you can see all 15 crane species at once, including critically endangered species such as whooping crane and hooded crane. We'll learn about the cranes' natural history, population trends, and what's being done to ensure their survival. After a box lunch, we'll visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation and get a tour of the legendary cabin where Aldo Leopold wrote his best-selling, inspirational book, A Sand County Almanac. In between these two fascinating highlights, we'll, of course, be birding. We arrive back at our Middleton, hotel in the late afternoon in time for a rest. We'll meet in early even ing in our Rendezvous Room for a social hour, the Rendezvous Raffle, the bird checklist, announcements, then dinner and a fascinating program by Diane and Michael Porter on how they conduct the BWD hands-on field tests of birding optics.

After a completely restful night's sleep and an energizing continental breakfast, we head over to the Pheasant Branch Conservancy for some birding and a sparrows identification workshop. During all of our time in the field, Eagle Optics staff members will have binoculars and spotting scopes on hand for you to try under real field-birding conditions. How awesome is that?

We'll enjoy lunch on Sunday at a local eatery in the Middleton area with some easy birding and optics sampling at a local lake where we'll look for waterfowl and raptors. Then it's back to the hotel in late afternoon to say our goodbyes and see-you-laters. You are certain to leave this Rendezvous with new friends, some new birds, and the culinary memory of Ben Lizdas' grilling skills.

We'll see you in Wisconsin!

The BWD RR Team

Optics Opstravaganza!

October 17-19, 2014
Middleton, Wisconsin

Register for this rendezvous »


$385 per person, includes all programs, field trips, and guiding. Lodging is not included.

Add a meal plan for $110/person.

A $25 non-refundable registration fee is included. The Reader Rendezvous event fee does NOT include lodging or transportation to/from the event.

Event Highlights

  • Eagle Optics staff will be available for optics questions (and product recommendations!) While there is no requirement (or pressure) to purchase optics during this Reader Rendezvous, the staff of Eagle Optics will offer special deals.
  • Get a free optics evaluation and cleaning by optics experts Diane and Michael Porter.
  • See all 15 of the world's crane species on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Int'l Crane Foundation.
  • Visit the legendary cabin where Aldo Leopold wrote his best-selling book, A Sand County Almanac.
  • Sample a wide selection of equipment from every major sport optics manufacturer.
  • Great Wisconsin birding—including a sparrows ID workshop on Sunday morning.

What to Pack

Clothing Recommendations

We will be birding outside at every opportunity, much of which will be along trails. Mid-October in Wisconsin can be a weather showcase, so plan to bring layers, including a wind/rain-proof outer shell and be prepared for both sunny, mild weather, and cold and rain. We have contin gency plans if the weather does not cooperate. Dress code is comfy-casual for all Rendezvous events.

Optics Equipment

Our friends at Eagle Optics will have plenty of spotting scopes for us to use in the field, so packing yours in not necessary unless you'd be lost without it.

Lodging and Travel

We've chosen the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Middleton as our home base for the Optics Opstravaganza. It is a Diamond Award-winning hotel, and one of the top 10% Courtyard hotels in the world. Learn more at the hotel website »

To reserve your room at special Rendezvous rates as low as $94, please click here »

You may also reserve your room by calling the Marriott Courtyard directly:

Courtyard Madison West/Middleton
2266 Deming Way
Middleton, WI 53562
Phone: 608-203-0100

Start date: 10/17/14
End date: 10/19/14
Last day to book by: 9/16/14

To get the special Rendezvous rate, make sure you reference the Bird Watcher's Digest Reader Rendezvous when making your reservation.


Middleton is five miles west of Madison, Wisconsin, and 11 miles west of the Dane County Regional Airport. It's 90 miles west of Milwaukee.

Transportation to and from the hotel and to the Friday evening social hour at Eagle Optics will be on your own.

Transportation to daytime activities on Saturday and Sunday will be provided (via school bus) and will leave from the RR hotel, the Marriott Courtyard Middleton. The cost is included in the registration fee.

Register for this rendezvous »