Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory

Headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

Director Updates

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:



WGLBBO Director’s Report – Oct 3. 2017

W. Mueller

Southeast Wisconsin Conservation Summit conference - The Southeast Wisconsin Conservation Summit has been in discussion for ten years, and will finally take place this autumn, hosted by WGLBBO here at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, on November 3rd and 4th. A total of 47 speakers are on our schedule for Friday and Saturday, each having 15 minutes for their presentation, and three minutes for questions. Our poster session with approximately 31 presenters, starts late Friday afternoon, and lasts until 6:20pm.

Midwest Migration Network – The Steering Committee and Leader Team of MMN (of which Bryan and I are members) are planning a fall meeting for Nov 17-18 here at FBMP.  The Saturday portion of this meeting is open to interested partners.  Bill Mueller and Bryan Lenz are two of the four-member Leadership Team of the MMN, with additional responsibilities this season for planning and hosting the fall MMN Steering Committee and Partner meeting.

Waterbird Watch – Calvin Brennan started his eighth season here on September 1st. He has already counted large numbers of a wide array of species. Among waterfowl and waterbird species seen, the first month was dominated by the full complement of “non-diver” duck species and cormorants. Among the unusual species seen thus far this fall was a Neotropic Cormorant (only the 6th Wisconsin record) and two Parasitic Jaegers.  

A wonderful new development for this fall season is the construction of a permanent blind for the Watch, to be installed soon by Harrington Beach State Park staff. This will save park staff the set-up and disassembly time each year, and brings our operation to yet another milestone.

American Kestrel Nestbox Project – Data from over 100 nestboxes has been received and is being processed by Mike Schlotfeldt for uploading to the Peregrine Fund.

Other Outreach activity – The Observatory is represented as part of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.  Director Mueller serves on the WBCI Steering Committee, and is co-chair of the WBCI Issues Committee. WBCI is currently in a Strategic Planning Process. All committee chairs are involved in writing sections of the Strategic Action Plan.  A separate process is underway to determine the future utilization of the WBCI All Bird Plan.

Raptor watches at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve - This past week, we had one of the first good raptor days of the fall, at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve. On the strong NW winds, on September 27th:

  • Swainson's Hawk (1 light morph adult - - #255 for FBMP)
  • Red-tailed Hawk 23
  • Turkey Vulture 15
  • Bald Eagle 4
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk 4
  • Cooper's Hawk 4
  • Northern Harrier 1
  • Merlin 2
  • Peregrine Falcon 1
  • American Kestrel 1

More such raptor watch days will be possible, with the right weather conditions. Notice will be posted.

New bird song course – Director Mueller will be teaching a new eight-week UW-Milwaukee Field Station course, to be offered in February and March of 2018, entitled “An Introduction to Bird Song”.


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:



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