Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

Headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

See the new Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas webpage at: http://wsobirds.org/atlas

We're Hiring - Administrative Assistant

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The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, Inc. (https://wglbbo.org), an independent 501(c)(3) research, conservation, and advocacy organization, is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant to support its Science Director, Development Specialist, and Board of Directors by handling routine communications, maintaining electronic and paper files, entering data into spreadsheets and databases, and performing other day-to-day tasks in the Observatory’s office in downtown Port Washington, Wisconsin. The complete job description is available in the downloadable pdf.


New Wisconsin Field Guide to Appear in November

Wisconsin birders will soon have a new field guide to help them find and identify birds in the Badger State.

The American Birding Association and Scott & Nix, Inc., have announced the publication of the American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, the latest volume in their popular series of state field guides.

The author is former BirdWatching editor-in-chief and Wisconsin resident and birder Chuck Hagner. 

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Hagner is the board chair of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the state director of Bird City Wisconsin, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. He was the editor of nationally distributed BirdWatching magazine from 2001 to 2017 and worked as a writer and editor at Time-Life Books for years before that.

His new Wisconsin guide is based on the most recent official checklist of Wisconsin’s birds published by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, and it incorporates not only the latest sightings submitted to eBird but also the results of the just-completed second statewide Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas.

All 262 of the state’s regularly occurring species and dozens of carefully chosen casual and rare species -- including the Kirtland’s Warbler and Whooping Crane -- are shown in more than 470 large color photos.

Most of the pictures were provided by well-known professional bird and nature photographer Brian E. Small.

Small’s beautiful work has been featured in hundreds of books, magazines, calendars, websites, newspapers, and smartphone apps and appears in every issue of BirdWatching. For 15 years, he served as the photo editor at Birding magazine.

“Our goal was to make an up-to-date, authoritative, helpful field guide that you don’t need to be an expert to understand,” Hagner says. “We want birdwatchers of all skill levels to know when and where to see Wisconsin’s birds and how to identify them.”

A detailed state map and a complete state checklist are also included, along with an index and a handy quick-look-up index.

The American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin will appear in bookstores statewide in November 2019, and it is available for purchase now via Amazon and other online retailers.

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For more information:

TITLE: American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin

SERIES: American Birding Association State Field Guides

ISBN: 978-1-935622-69-7 • price: $24.95 ($32.95 can)

AUTHOR: Charles Hagner


PUBLISHER: Scott & Nix, Inc. (scottandnix.com)

SIZE: 4.5 x 7.25 inches • pages: 368

FORMAT: Flexibound with rounded corners

AVAILABLE: November 2019


  •  479 beautiful color photographs featuring 299 bird species in natural habitats
  •  Clear and concise introduction, identification, habitat, and birdsong text
  •  Tips on when and where to see birds
  •  Organized by type of bird, from waterfowl to finches
  •  Complete state checklist, detailed state map, index, and quick index
  •  Printed on 100% FSC-certified paper from well-managed forests

For review copies and publicity queries, contact George Scott, Scott & Nix, Inc., 150 W. 28th St., Suite 1900, New York, NY 10001, , (212) 627-5909.

Observatory Announces New Science Director

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The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory has named Dr. Jennifer Phillips-Vanderberg as its new science director.

Phillips-Vanderberg is a Ph.D. biologist with extensive experience conducting ornithological research. For the last two years, she has worked as a life scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, addressing pollution-control issues in the Great Lakes Region, primarily in eastern and southern Wisconsin.

Phillips-Vanderberg is a graduate of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She received her doctorate in animal behavior in 2016 from the University of California-Davis, where she used a combination of museum and field methods to study the evolutionary relationships among climate, life history, and coloration in 101 species of birds.

She arrives at the Observatory, which has its headquarters at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve just north of Port Washington, with a life-long affection for the Great Lakes region and a deep appreciation for the issues facing the region and its birdlife.

She grew up in Michigan in a town on Lake Huron and worked for years as a naturalist at Michigan DNR’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, in Bay City, where she taught ornithology, conservation biology, ecology, wildlife management, and other subjects to students, developed an outreach program that used bird banding as a gateway to biology, and surveyed bird populations.

Phillips-Vanderberg succeeds William Mueller, who will retire on Oct. 15, after nearly a decade of service as the Observatory’s director.

Present at every moment of the Observatory’s young life and the author of many of its proudest accomplishments, Mueller has served as director since 2013. He succeeded the Observatory founder, the late Dr. Noel Cutright, one of the state’s leading ornithologists, who died that year.

Both Mueller and Phillips-Vanderberg are among the 28 researchers and conservationists scheduled to deliver presentations at the Observatory’s upcoming Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1–2.

Phillips-Vanderberg will give an overview of her past research and work. Mueller will discuss the development of Wisconsin’s growing network of automated Motus wildlife-tracking stations and the Observatory’s ongoing study of waterfowl and waterbirds in western Lake Michigan.

The public is invited to the annual two-day conference, which will take place at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, in Ozaukee County.

Learn more about the Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit.

Register for the Summit.

Fall Raptor Watch

Raptor Watch

If you would like to join our group, simply email us at  and you will be included on the list of folks who receive regular updates as to optimal weather conditions for watching. 

We follow a protocol established by the Hawk Migration Association of America. Volunteers record the migrating species and number of individuals at one-hour increments, using a datasheet and clipboard that are supplied at the raptor platform. The best days for raptor flights in autumn at the Preserve are when skies are clear or cloudy, with westerly, northwesterly, or southwesterly winds, and days right after the passage of a cold front. 

Migration begins in mid-August with American Kestrels. Peak numbers for Sharp-shinned and Broad-winged Hawks occur in mid-to late September. Raptor migration is strong through the month of October on good weather days with the right wind conditions. It continues into early December -- for those hardy observers willing to brave cold temps -- with the last of the Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks, occasional Northern Goshawks, and both eagles. Peak migration at the Preserve occurs from mid-September to late October.