Monday, January 6, 2020

using eBird; ways to improve your checklists

If you've been using eBird, good for you. If you haven't tried it, you really might want to start.

Here are a few reasons:

It's easy. It's fun.

It makes your data useful to science in a broad array of ways  - consider the recently-completed 5 years of field-work on the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, which gathered data from

125,641 checklists, submitted by 2,147 participants

Here's a great set of ways to improve your checklists:

Thursday, December 26, 2019

learn about and join the Midwest Migration Network

About the Midwest Migration Network

The Midwest Migration Network (MMN) facilitates regionally-coordinated migration monitoring and research to address information gaps in the Midwest. Although focused primarily on landbirds, the Network welcomes anyone interested in advancing the study of the migratory ecology of birds and other animals in the Midwest. For the purposes of our Network, the Midwest region includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Region 3).
Interested in joining the MMN? Learn more about membership.

Our Projects


The Midwest Migration Network focuses on three research initiatives: Banding & Ground Surveys, Radar Ornithology, and Telemetry. The goal of each initiative is to coordinate a regional understanding of migration through a shared research methodology designed to promote conservation of the Network's partner-generated Focal Species by answering its priority Research Questions.

Learn more at our website:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Red-headed Woodpecker population status update

Red-headed Woodpecker has continued to decline in some areas of its geographic range.

This is the trend graph for WI from the Breeding Bird Survey:

Other info pertaining to WI, from eBird Status & Trends:

Records from WBBA II (the 2nd WI Atlas), may indicate some improvement, as also is the case in several other areas of this species' geographic range. Some areas of the United States show declines, but there does seem to be a slight resurgence; there may be a link (as there seemed to be in the 1970s) to the effects of much-increased "standing dead biomass" resulting from Emerald Ash Borer. Red-headed Woodpeckers only excavate in dead or dying trees, unlike some other woodpecker species.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

new and/or recent research on aerial insectivore ecology

There is much concern about the status of many aerial insectivore bird species.  

Here are several recent papers/reports on aerial insectivore (and related) research:

Stable Isotopes from Museum Specimens May Provide Evidence of Long-Term Change in the Trophic Ecology of a Migratory Aerial Insectivore

 A Warmer Midwest Could Lead to a Common Bird Being Less Common Over the Next Century

 The grand challenges of migration ecology that radar aeroecology can help answer

 Climate Change and Insectivore Ecology

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Learn the latest on RUSTY BLACKBIRD

Rusty Blackbird photo by Joel Trick
Find out more about this declining species, and what is being learned:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Threats to birds: learn about them

Birds face many threats to their health, well-being, and survival; some already exist in nature that humans do not cause or control (storms, disease, parasites, and predation are major sources of mortality and injury). But human activity in the modern world has increased the number, severity, and complexity of anthropogenic, or human-caused threats - not only to individual birds, but also to populations, regional or local sub-populations, or entire species or subspecies at differing geographic scales.

Here are some important sources of mortality, displacement, and injury to birds.

Habitat loss:
Read about habitat loss at these links from the American Bird Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:

Habitat alteration or fragmentation also have negative effects on birds. Read a paper linked here:

Effects of feral or free-ranging cats on birds
The enormous effect of cats on wild birds and other wildlife species cannot be overstated.Our WBCI Issues Paper on this topic my be found here:
Another highly-read, valuable paper on this topic is linked at:

Effects of pesticides or other chemicals
One of the "Issues Papers" from the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative is linked here:
This paper has links to many additional sources of information.

Threats specific to migration
Birds face specific threats during migration.  It may be the time of highest mortality in the annual cycle for those species that move distances between breeding and winter ranges. Read more here:

Lead poisoning
Lead affects birds in multiple ways. Birds can pick up lead fragments or lead shot, or lead fishing tackle, and then be poisoned by those fragments or other lead items. Here are several informative links:

Effects of climate change
The effects of climate change on birds are complex and far-reaching, extending into multiple aspects of birds' life cycles. Read more at these two links:

Window and glass collisions
Many millions of birds are killed by collisions with glass; much of this is avoidable. Learn more at these links:

Collisions with communication towers and/or wind turbines
Here's a paper on the effects of collisions with communications towers:

Here is the WBCI Issues Paper on birds and wind power:
Here is a very new paper on this and related topics:

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

the Barn Swallow - a worldwide aerial insectivore

Ph. by M. McMasters - Wikim. Commons

Barn Swallow is a bird nearly all rural people know: it is ubiquitous and widespread. It is in decline in some regions. See the animated eBird map (linked below) to watch its movement across North America through the seasons.

Declines are particularly marked in some areas of Canada. 

"Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) may be the most widespread and well-known passerine, with highly migratory populations that span the Americas as well as Europe, Asia, and Africa. Related species, and some Barn Swallow subspecies, are resident in Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. This remarkable variability makes Barn Swallow a great case study in migratory behavior. The varied migratory behaviors in this species globally are also seen on a smaller scale in the Americas, as this new eBird Abundance Model helps illustrate."

See the full hemisphere distribution at: