Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory

Headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit banner

Director Updates

April 2017

WGLBBO Director’s and Chief Scientist’s Report – April 2017

W. Mueller and B. Lenz

Many projects are underway as of early April, with continuing progress through late winter:

“Conservation Center” meetings, with M. Tomter, J. Torinus, WGLBBO Board members, OWLT Director and staff, Andrew Struck

Planning and outreach is underway for our fall 2017 “Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit”.

WBBAII – Wi Breeding Bird Atlas II Training/Regional Kickoff workshops in

  • Vernon County, WI at the Kickapoo Reserve
  • Rice Lake, WI, at the Rice Lake Public Library, with a morning field trip
  • Green Bay, WI, at the UWGB Env. Studies Computer Lab, with a nocturnal field trip in Door Co
  • Upcoming on Apr 29, in Kenosha, at Kenosha Pub. Libr., with nocturnal field trip nearby
  • These are funded by two grants: A WI Citizen-based Monitoring Grant, and a Coastal Grant

Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Steering Committee – Strategic Planning is underway, for this largest bird conservation umbrella organization – the largest in the Midwest.

Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Issues Committee “Issues Papers” – more are currently in preparation, with edits/updates to the existing Lead Poisoning and Birds paper

Meetings with Governance, Finance, and Science Committees “re-organization”

Kestrel Nestbox Workshop, in partnership with Ozaukee County Planning and Parks, March 22

Data management for the deployment of new AMKE nestboxes w/ our Madison Audubon partnership

Planning for IMBD 

Calvin Brennan started a new 2017 Spring Season of the Waterbird Watch on March 1. Calvin lived at the UW-Milw Field Station house until April 1. This worked well.

Our banding crew is setting up for an early start to the 2017 spring season.

Meeting with OWLT staff to coordinate breeding bird surveys, and a new migration point count project. We hope to eventually coordinate with Ozaukee Co. Planning & Parks on this also.

Ongoing participation in Great Lakes Commission pelagic bird survey data analysis.

Added a part-time data management consultant, Jesse Peterson, to our staff – Jesse is helping us coordinate and organize data for the next paper on the 2016 Waterbird Watch results, work on the Clausen dataset, and more potential projects to come.

Jean Clausen lived on the banks of the Wisconsin River west of Madison, and lived into her mid-nineties. She kept daily records of her bird observations, 365 days per year, for multiple decades. We are examining these records to consider possible analyses.

Another potential dataset is that of long-term banding records and sight observations from Tom Erdman, Curator of the Richter Museum of Natural History at UW Green Bay. To work with these data would require funding. Seeking funding is under consideration.

Addition of Jill Kunsmann to Board of Directors – welcome Jill!

Social media: WGLBBO Facebook page has weekly additions: https://www.facebook.com/wglbbo

Aerial Insectivore Facebook Discussion Group is increasingly active, with 52 current members from across the Midwest Region; recent posts on swallow decline, Golondrinas Network, Purple Martin research

I participated as reviewer for a PLOS-One journal article on bird collision research, at the request of editor Dr. C. Lepczyk.

I participated as corresponding reviewer for a bird climate change assessment for GLIFWC, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission: http://www.glifwc.org/

Ongoing good news re: bird collisions work in southeastern WI, and our involvement:

A group of us attended an excellent event at UW-Madison on bird collisions on Fri. moderated by Dr. Stan Temple. I had this news to share from our southeast WI activities/progress:

  1. Dr. Glen Fredlund, Director of the Conservation and Environmental Science Program (https://uwm.edu/conservation-environmental-science/ ) at UW-Milwaukee, started mapping locations of and identifying window-killed birds on the UW-Milwaukee campus several years ago, in an effort to identify the buildings that were the source of the greatest level of mortality. (Glen is at )
  2. As a result of Dr. Fredlund's work, and in conversation with faculty in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP: https://uwm.edu/sarup/ ) at UW-Milw., a response has grown on several levels.
  3. There is now an Institute of Ecological Design within SARUP.
  4. Dr. Filip Tejchman, a faculty member in SARUP, is engaged in research described in this presentation: http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/annualmeeting2016/presentations/6_Fri145_CollisionsSolutions_Tejchman.pdf (Filip is at )
  5. A group of us in s.e. WI are working with Dr. Fredlund and Dr. Tejchman. You already know these folks:
  • Shawn Graff - American Bird Conservancy
  • Dr. Bryan Lenz - Bird City Wisconsin and WGLBBO
  • Carl Schwartz - Chair of the Bird City WI Board of Directors, and Chair of the WGLBBO Board

We hope to have much more exciting news to share in the near future on several other related fronts.

WGLBBO Director’s Report, Mid-November, 2016 – W. Mueller

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II update

  • New Atlas training workshops are in process for 2017. We receive Coastal Management Grant and Citizen-based Monitoring Grant funding to support our project time.
  • Another Atlas Committee – Publications – has started work, and we are part of this as well, planning for the 2nd WI atlas book. I am currently tasked with preparing a draft outline for an atlas book.                                                                                                                             

Regional Urban Chimney Swift Monitoring

We are working with Tom Will of USFWS. Katie Koch of USFWS and I co-chaired the Midwest Aerial Insectivore Working Group until July 2016. The Working Group has disbanded, but its various projects continue. We are at work – with help from our Science Committee, in planning a Midwest, 8-state, region-wide urban monitoring effort for swifts, hopefully to be rolled out in 2018.

Waterbird Watch update

Calvin was here until November 20th. The peak numbers of birds really only start to appear during late October.

Recent details include:

  • Red-breasted Merganser - 125,173
  • Ring-billed Gull - 17,222
  • Double-crested Cormorant - 8,940
  • Canada Goose - 5,012
  • Herring Gull - 4,681
  • Mallard - 2,122
  • Bonaparte's Gull - 2,063
  • Lesser Scaup - 2,061
  • Blue-winged Teal - 1,833
  • Barn Swallow - 1,147

Total for all migrants - 179,449

Highlighted species include:

  • Harlequin Duck
  • Shearwater species (As far as we know, this is only the second shearwater (unknown sp.) ever recorded on Lake Michigan. A Greater Shearwater was seen alive one day in autumn of 2012 in coastal southwest Michigan, and found dead on the beach a day later.)
  • Little Gull
  • Franklin's Gull
  • Parasitic Jaeger - now up to a total of 9
  • Pomarine Jaeger - 3
  • Short-eared Owl

Letter of Support for Greg Septon

Letter of Support for Greg Septon nomination to the WI Conservation Hall of Fame: Another deserving nomination – we submitted a letter of support. Many of you know of Greg’s decades-long work to restore the Peregrine Falcon in Wisconsin.

WBCI Conference update

This year’s Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative/Bird City Wisconsin was a great success. We partnered with the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum of Art, which proved to be a fortunate choice in every way.

Website and Facebook update

Website and Facebook updates: with help from Mike Schlotfeldt, our excellent Outreach Committee, and webmaster Dave Bishop, we’ve continually made updates since the previous board meeting. We have 2 Facebook pages:



Director's Report – August 2016 - Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory

William P. Mueller


Dr. Amber Roth of Michigan Technological University has been Coordinator of the Midwest Landbird Migration Monitoring Network (MLMMN) since 2014, in partnership with WGLBBO. Dr. Roth shepherded the development of the Network's Strategic Plan (see http://wglbbo.org/what-we-do/midwest-landbird-migration-monitoring-network), which was completed and published in February of 2015. Dr. Roth and WGLBBO Director Bill Mueller, Chief Scientist Bryan Lenz, and Katie Koch of the USFWS – of the MLMMN, are hosting one of the three workshop tracks in the State of Stopover Symposium to be held in Milwaukee from October 5-7. More information can be found at: https://stopover2016.wordpress.com/

Waterbird Watch

Calvin Brennan completed his spring 2016 Waterbird Watch season on May 20th. He tallied over 189,000 birds of 171 species. The individuals count was a new high count. A report of last year’s results was submitted for publication, and can be found in the fall 2015 issue of The Passenger Pigeon, quarterly journal of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.

Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

I have again traveled over 1,500 miles in 2016 giving breeding bird atlas workshops/presentations all around WI with Mike Reese, Director of Volunteers for WBBAII. Since fall of 2014, we have given some form of this presentation over 50 times. Current atlas results:

Banding Station

Our spring banding season has gone extremely well. Master Bander Al Sherkow and Vicki Piaskowski are conducting the project with help from Robin Squier, Jana Viel, Lora Loke, Judy Kistler, Corrine Palmer, and Mary Mirasola, with help from while Stephanie Beilke has moved but is still participating on a less frequent basis. Al conducted a training class in spring, which not only trained new staff for the station, but grew the number of qualified participants. Fall banding begins again in late August.

Jana took us into a special summer season gathering data for her PhD research, with Dave Sikorski and some of the above team assisting.

Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative

I serve on the Steering Committee of WBCI, and as co-chair of WBCI's Issues Committee. Our work products include the publications linked here: http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/issuespapers.htm.

The Issues Committee meets at the end of this month, with plans to expand our efforts in several key areas, and to continue progress on the Issues Papers.

In other WI Bird Conservation news, we are part of the planning team for the WBCI/Bird City annual meeting, and you can access information at http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/annualmeeting2016.htm