Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory


Volunteer Opportunities

Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

If you are interested in, or would like information about any of the following opportunities, please write to

  1. Raptor Watch observers - Become part of a rotating team of observers, tallying raptors at our watch platform at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, during the fall migration in September, October, and November. If you are a skilled observer already, you only need a datasheet and to choose a time and dates when you are available. If you are interested but need experience and training, please contact us to begin - we will provide training and arrange a schedule with you.
  2. Bat surveys – Learn how to use the ANABAT acoustic monitoring technology, to do nocturnal walking surveys at a number of locations. Please contact us to arrange training and a schedule.
  3. Point count surveys - The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory has conducted a series of avian point count surveys since late 2009. We want to expand those surveys, and would appreciate some volunteer assistance. Similar to the new point counts done for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II (4,000 point counts were conducted across WI this summer - in addition to regular atlasing), we intend this to be a rigorous program of monitoring, and we ask volunteers to be certified via the Wisconsin Birder's Certification process: birdercertification.org  If you are interested and would like more information, please contact us at the address give above. These surveys will take place during both fall and spring migration seasons.

Our Great Volunteers

Featured Volunteer - Jill Kunsmann

From time to time, the newsletter profiles one of the wonderful people who help us out at our events or make presentations that extend the reach of our organization. Board members of most non-profits are volunteers, too, and this issue honors board member Jill Kunsmann.

Jill has her fingers in most of the pies at the Observatory. She is Secretary of the organization and the head of the Development Committee, which encompasses the Events Committee. She is the public face of the Observatory’s events, and she provides much of the muscle behind the scenes. She teaches about pollinators, oversees the Observatory’s social media presence, and tracks down grant money, event venues, plants for native pollinator plant sales, box lunches, and porta-potties with equal aplomb. 
Like the duck that looks serene above the surface but is paddling wildly below it, Jill pulls off all of her tasks with grace, generosity, and humor. 
Before she turned her energies to the Observatory, Jill worked at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. When she’s not checking off items on her Observatory to-do list, she raises and tags monarchs and is a birder, an avid gardener, and a devoted mother and grandmother. 
Jill will be giving a talk about gardening for Monarchs at the W.J. Niederkorn Library on May 9, at 10 a.m.-- she’ll be the one wearing the Monarch cape.
Photo from left to right: Board members Shelly Culea, Jill Kunsmann and volunteer Sarah Hildebrand.

Joel Trick, Observatory Friend and Volunteer

Joel Trick may have retired from the Observatory’s Board of Directors, but he continues to make big contributions to us through his incredible bird photography. You will find many of his photos in our newsletters, annual reports, and Instagram account. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise to advance educational and conservation purposes.

Joel worked as a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Green Bay, Wisconsin field office for over 20 years prior to retirement in 2012. His work duties included review of federal projects, migratory birds, and endangered species recovery, including Whooping Crane, Piping Plover, Kirtland’s Warbler, Bald Eagle, Gray Wolf and Canada Lynx. He is also a well- known botanist and has collected thousands of plants and butterflies in northeastern Wisconsin.

In retirement, Joel continues to contribute to conservation initiatives and serves as an eBird reviewer for three Wisconsin Counties, as well as being the Manitowoc County coordinator for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas.

We are grateful to have Joel as an Observatory friend and volunteer.

Joel Trick

Eddee Daniel, Observatory Friend and Partner

The Observatory is proud to call Milwaukee-based photographer and writer Eddee Daniel a friend and partner. Eddee is a true lover of nature and an experienced public speaker on topics relating to Milwaukee-area parks and urban nature. He attended both our first Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit in 2017 and this year’s summit, where he delivered a talk entitled “A Wealth of Nature: Parks and Natural Areas in Southeastern Wisconsin.” What’s more, at our Monarch Tag-and-Release Celebration on August 25, he captured amazing photographs of butterflies being tagged and children enjoying the event. You can view the images on the blog, The Natural Realm. Eddee curates The Natural Realm for the website "A Wealth of Nature," which is a project of "Preserve Our Parks."

See more of Eddee’s work

Eddee Daniel
Eddee Daniel - Photograph by Joel Peregrine - 2018

Barbie Hughes, Observatory Friend and Volunteer

Whether it's the Observatory's native plant sale, World Migratory Bird Day, our Monarch events, the Raptor Watch, or the Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit, you are certain to find volunteer Barbie Hughes at all of them. Her dedication stems from a lifelong love of nature and a desire to make a difference through her volunteerism.

When she retired from her work as an occupational therapist in England, Barbie chose to build a home on the shores of Lake Michigan, a location that holds fond childhood memories of summers spent at her grandparents' cottage just north of her present location.

An avid gardener, Barbie has converted her yard to a haven for pollinators. Multiple milkweed species for Monarch caterpillars and numerous native nectar plants have created the perfect habitat, and she is richly rewarded for her efforts with clouds of butterflies that drift through her yard.  An avid bird enthusiast, Barbie takes advantage of her close proximity to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust's Forest Beach Migratory Preserve to go on frequent bird hikes, and she has gone through the training sessions to become a Raptor Watch volunteer in the fall.

Thank you, Barbie, for all you do for the Observatory!

Barbie Hughes

Meet Shelly Culea, Our Fabulous Volunteer

The Observatory salutes our wonderful volunteer Shelly Culea, who is affectionately known as "The Monarch Lady." Chat with Shelly for 10 minutes and you will be caught up in the wonder and magic of these beautiful and iconic butterflies. Raising Monarchs from egg to release is a passion for Shelly, and this summer she will lead several Observatory-hosted workshops: one focusing on Monarch habitat restoration, another on how to raise Monarchs from egg to release, and a third—the grande finale of our Monarch events—a tag-and-release party at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in August.  Shelly, thank you so much for all you do!

Shelly Culea