Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

Early 2018 Update

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory will undertake several new efforts with a group of partners this year, focused on Aerial Insectivores:

  • New monitoring and research project in Milwaukee: If you would like to participate in new citizen-assisted monitoring for Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks this year, please contact
  • Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Annual Meeting, devoted to Aerial Insectivores, is scheduled for September 7 and 8, 2018. Location, agenda, and program are currently being determined. Please check back here for news and updates.

Midwest Aerial Insectivore Discussion Group

The Midwest Aerial Insectivore Facebook Group is now a :Discussion Group - go to this link if you're interested in reading, or joining: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1581381955435390/

 The Decline of Aerial Insectivores

There is growing concern about the apparent population decline of many “aerial insectivores” – those species that feed on their insect prey in flight. These species belong to a number of avian orders and families, and include swallows and martins, chimney swifts, some forest flycatchers, plus nightjars such as whip-poor-wills and nighthawks.

The WGLBBO is involved in several initiatives aimed at improving monitoring of these birds, and at research into their populations declines. Check back at this page in the coming year to learn more.

More reading:

Hunt, P. 2012. Empty skies: The decline of aerial Insectivores. Afield: NH Audubon News and Programs. Online. Accessed May 21, 2015: http://www.nhaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Afield-spring-2012-web.pdf

Kelly, J. F., E.S. Bridge, W. F. Brick, P. B. Chilson.  2013. Ecological Energetics of an Abundant Aerial Insectivore, the Purple Martin.  Online. Accessed August 31, 2015:  http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0076616

McCracken, J. 2008. Are Aerial Insectivores Being “Bugged Out”? BirdWatch Canada, Winter 2008. Online. Accessed August 31, 2015:  http://www.bsc-eoc.org/download/BWCwi08.pdf

Nebel, S., A. Mills, J. D. McCracken, and P. D. Taylor. 2010. Declines of aerial insectivores in North America follow a geographic gradient. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 5(2): 1. Online. Accessed June 1, 2015: http://www.ace-eco.org/vol5/iss2/art1/