Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

Director Updates

Director’s Report – July 2018

W. Mueller

Motus – meetings and coordination continue throughout the summer.

I’ve had meetings with representatives from our multiple partner organizations and individuals who intend to fund – or host – a Motus station, with more forthcoming.

Additional news to come in August and September.

WBBAII Breeding Bird Atlas

I have completed 90% of my teaching/coordination of training for the Atlas for 2018, and a  CBM grant is coming our way to pay for my time on that project.

Our Urban Birds Grant from USFWS involves a series of workshops with our partners at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center

“From Flowers to Feathers”

We did a workshop about incorporating native plants into urban yards, basic principles of design, and how native plants help many wildlife species, especially birds.

This included presentations from Urban Ecology Center(UEC) and Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (WGLBBO) staff, sharing their bird-focused experience and expertise. Native plants were once again on sale, so people could be enticed to start creating habitat in their yard right away. A portion of proceeds from the sale benefited the UEC.  

From Flowers to Feathers: Workshops & Native Plant Sale

Saturday, June 23 

Another follow-up workshop at UEC will take place in early autumn. 

Chimney Swift- Common Nighthawk Project

As another part of our Urban Birds grant, we now have 17 cooperators running monitoring routes in Milwaukee County. This is a time-demanding project for this year.  Cooperators do a route once each week, with six stops, at each of which they do a point count for Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks.  Interim results will be presented at the Fall WBCI/BCW Conference.

WBCI/BCW Annual Conference

Continuing in this ‘aerial insectivore’ vein, you hopefully all saw a notice for the September Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative/Bird City Wisconsin Conference in our newsletter. I have been part of a four-person planning team organizing the speakers, getting their topics coordinated, and developing the agenda and schedule, and the registration set-up. This year’s theme is the decline of aerial insectivores, which include all six species of swallows found in Wisconsin, both nightjars, Chimney Swift, and a group of forest fly catchers.

Please consider attending this important conference. Aerial insectivores comprise a group of valuable, much-beloved species which are all in serious decline.

To see the entire schedule, refer to our newsletter, or the latest Badger Birder, or go to this link:


Registration is at: http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Registration-form_final_2018.pdf

American Kestrel Partnership

Mike has been coordinating data management with our statewide partners. He also collects data from several of our own boxes, and we are working toward the development of partnerships with additional nature centers, County governments, and individuals. We are progressing toward cooperation with three types of partners:

  • Some collect and enter their own data into the AKP system
  • Some need our help with parts of the implementation of the monitoring process and data entry.
  • Some have kestrel nestboxes in place, or wish to do so, but are at an “entry-level” point in the process, and need our assistance with beginning steps.

Midwest Migration Network

Our work on our MMN grant this year is multi-parted. It involves developing subcontracts with Point Blue Conservation Science, and Mark Shieldcastle. Point Blue will work on a complicated data interface between the Midwest Avian Data Center, and the Bird Banding Lab. Mark Shieldcastle will lead a series of workshops across the eight states of the Midwest Region to implement a new set of protocols for banding stations and the way they record and archive data. We submitted a grant modification to our existing grant in May; it is in the USFWS grant “pipeline,” and will take some time to work through their process.

My Midwest Aerial Insectivore Discussion Group continues to grow.  The number of members  has increased consistently this year, and the Discussion Group now has 122 members. See it, or join at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1581381955435390/

Arial Insect Facebook 


by William Mueller

*** Waterbird Technician Calvin Brennan has staffed the Watch again this spring since March 1st.  New funding proposals are in process.

*** Work progresses on our 2018 comparative Waterbird Watch scientific paper, with planning and coordination with Bryan Lenz and Jesse Peterson.

*** A lengthy list of various Midwest Migration Network (MMN) meetings, plus organizational, and MMN Communications Subcommittee meetings, activities, website planning and setup have taken place in the past 6 weeks, with many more to come throughout 2018. 

*** The Peregrine Fund and WGLBBO organized and conducted the first Wisconsin statewide American Kestrel Partnership meeting in Arlington WI on March 19th, with partners from 12 different WI groups participating. Our role in this regional network has expanded, and also shifted, as data management for the Partnership has developed new protocols and new standards. Mike and I manage the project meeting follow-up with these statewide partners and will continue to do so.  

*** The Wisconsin Stopover Initiative subcommittee on habitat had a recent group project, involving a stopover site search via mapping, and data gathering for shorebird locations around the western Great Lakes.

*** The Southern Wisconsin “Cats and Birds Working Group” met recently, and we at WGLBBO continue our involvement in discussions, the excellent ongoing work on Bryan’s draft ordinance, and ongoing literature search and correspondence.

*** Outreach, via the WGLBBO website and Facebook updates, posting and coordination continues. Recent additions on the website include a kestrel webcam from the Peregrine Fund.

  • Recent Facebook outreach included a “Purple Martin Emergency” post which reached more than 62,000 people in three day - and was shared more than 900 times across multiple platforms in many Midwestern states.

*** Our Midwest Aerial Insectivore Discussion Group continues to host and share an array of insectivore information  in multiple states - it has grown to 107 members.

April report 1

*** The WGLBBO office at FBMP re-opened for spring hours during the second week of March.

*** The WBBAII (the 2nd Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas) training is underway for spring 2018, with several workshops and training events having taken place, others yet to come, plus both nocturnal and diurnal field trips planned in several atlas blocks

Eastern Region Atlas 2018 Kickoff Workshop: Help us get the 2018 Atlas season off to a dynamic start by joining us at one of our FREE Atlas Regional Kickoff workshops. These events are for everyone, whether you’re a newer member of the Atlas team, a seasoned veteran, or just want to learn more about how to join us in 2018.

Learn more and register by visiting our Atlas Regional Kickoff webpage.

Regional Kickoff Workshop Locations & Dates

  • Eastern Region - April 21, 12–4:30 p.m.: Sturgeon Bay Library, Sturgeon Bay, WI
  • Western Region - May 5, 10 a.m.–2:00 p.m.: National Eagle Center, Wabasha, MN*

Each workshop will include: Atlas results to date, focus areas and goals for 2018, introduction and basic training for new atlasers, advanced training for returning atlasers, data-entry instruction, tips from your region’s top atlasers, the chance to meet county coordinators, Atlas planners, and other atlasers from your area, and field trips to local hotspot.

*Rescheduled from April 14 due to a major storm.

  • Right now, our biggest need is for people to bird in atlas blocks that are not otherwise covered by someone. We really need YOU to take on a block, and bird that block until it nears the completion criteria.

 To help clarify where these blocks are, here’s a map showing 2 types of blocks:

      1. The red blocks have little to no atlas effort, and need someone to take them on as a principal atlaser

     2. The yellow blocks are already half done, and they just need someone to take them on and finish them off.

April report 2

April report 3

*** With our board member Dr. Glen Fredlund, and SARUP’s Dr. Filip Tejchman (both at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), we continue our involvement with the SE WI Bird Collisions working group. This will continue to be a major focus for Dr. Bryan Lenz in his new position with the American Bird Conservancy.

*** Motus project coordination and communication: a letter to partners is being sent, seeking cooperation on this ongoing project (itself a part of the MMN).

*** Work is already underway by WGLBBO staff, Executive Committee members, and the Science Committee on this year’s Southeastern Wisconsin CONSERVATION SUMMIT, including proposals for grant funding. More will be forthcoming on this WGLBBO signature event.

  • Attendance at the 2017 Southeastern Conservation Summit demonstrated the level of interest from presenters, other regional scientists, agency and conservation organization staff, nature center staff, consultants, academic faculty, students, and the general public:
  • 47 regional scientists and conservation organization staff provided oral presentations.
  • 31 regional scientists and conservation organization staff provided poster presentations.
  • 183 total attendees included 20 undergraduate students included 8 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 6 from Carroll University, 3 from UW-Whitewater, 2 from UW Madison, and 1 from Marquette University.
  • 177 people were from Wisconsin, 4 were from Illinois, and 2 were from Michigan.
  • Of the total of 183 attendees, 149 had pre-registered, and 34 were walk-in registrations on the days of the conference.

Our goals for the 2108 conference include:

  • Additional undergraduate student and agency participation at the presenter and attendee level.
  • Additional attendance overall.
  • Enriching/improving content areas and organization of presentations/posters.
  • Promotion enhancements (local news outlets, Chamber of Commerce notification, Facebook, Instagram, other social media and website messaging.

*** Bryan and I and the Observatory have a 2018 Urban Birds grant from USFWS. This has several moving parts, two of which h are:

  • Native Plants in the City Workshop at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center.
  • Aerial insectivore urban monitoring project: including survey planning for Chimney Swifts & Common Nighthawks.

*** Related to the last item mentioned above, we have multiple roles in the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Annual Meeting, this year focused on aerial insectivores: http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/

WGLBBO Director’s Report March 1, 2018

WGLBBO Director’s Report

March 1, 2018 

W. Mueller, WGLBBO Director

AERIAL INSECTIVORE NEWS: Our “Urban Birds” Project (with its urban aerial insectivore monitoring at the core) grant from USFWS gets underway this spring, with meetings now taking place, workshops in the planning stages, and Bryan Lenz working on the GIS aspects this month.

In other aerial insectivore news, the Midwest Aerial Insectivore Discussion Group that I manage continues to gain new members (now at 93 members region-wide): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1581381955435390/

JOINT VENTURE NEWS: Bryan and I participated in the recent Joint Venture meetings. Bryan gave a presentation on the Midwest Migration Network. What is the JV? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service definition for a joint venture is “a self-directed partnership of agencies, organizations, corporations, tribes, or individuals that has formally accepted the responsibility of implementing national or international bird conservation plans within a specific geographic area or for a specific taxonomic group, and has received general acceptance in the bird conservation community for such responsibility”. Working both collectively and independently, JV partners conduct activities in support of bird conservation goals cooperatively developed by the partnership. There are 18 habitat JVs in the nation today, and JVs are recognized as the standard for effective, science-based delivery of bird conservation through partnerships.  

KESTREL PROJECT UPDATE: We will hold our Statewide Kestrel Partnership meeting on March 19th, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. I coordinated with many state partners to organize this event.

A brief description of the purpose for this meeting: Our colleagues from The Peregrine Fund are coming to Wisconsin to meet with us to improve kestrel nestbox data gathering and project coordination. There are some exciting new developments this year, including a new smartphone app for data.

We are seeking new partner groups to join us, and simultaneously help to improve kestrel numbers while providing data for research.

We are also very interested in sharing all current WI kestrel breeding records with the ongoing Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, and we'll talk about how to do that if participants in the nestbox effort aren't already doing so. The meeting will be held in Columbia County, at a University of Wisconsin Agricultural Research Station.

I am the new state coordinator for the Kestrel Partnership for WI.


March 10, Birding America Conference in Chicago: Mike Reese and I present on the Atlas.


April 7 (tentative) Nocturnal Field Trip – 2-3 Door County Blocks

Western Regional Kickoff – April 14, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. National Eagle Center 50 Pembroke Ave, Wabasha, MN 55981.  Tom Prestby, Mike Reese, and I are presenters. Optional afternoon field trip.

Eastern Regional Kickoff - April 21, 12–4:30 p.m. Sturgeon Bay Library 107 S 4th Ave, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235.  Tom Prestby, Mike Reese, and I are presenters. Optional evening field trip.

OFFSHORE SURVEY NEWS: I participated in, and presented our Great Lakes Commission offshore survey project poster at the "State of Lake Michigan" conference in Green Bay, where I joined a number of great colleagues from UWGB: