Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

Director Updates


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.