Monday, October 15, 2018

Want to know what's happening to our Common Loons? Read this report

Want to know what's happening to our Common Loons? Read the abstract of this report, from the USGS and others (specifically, some of the research team are with the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center, and their colleagues in several other organizations/agencies.)



Distribution and foraging patterns of common loons on Lake Michigan with implications for exposure to type E avian botulism

Journal of Great Lakes Research

Friday, September 14, 2018

the sprite of the ponderosa pines

One of my favorite mountain forest birds is this tiny sprite of the ponderosa pines: the Pygmy Nuthatch. A small flock flits between pines and moves about trunks and limbs, sometimes on the ground. These small flocks  even spend nights all together in a single cavity in the non-breeding seasons. It's another of the species that sometimes has young of a previous breeding season returning to their parents and acting as  "helpers at the nest", assisting in raising young. Learn more about them at

File:Pygmy Nuthatch - Sisters - Oregon S4E8711 (19049199200).jpg
Ph. Wikim. Commons - F. Veronisi

Friday, August 31, 2018

Learn more about aerial insectivores this fall

Ph. Ken Billington - Wikim. Commons

Learn more about aerial insectivores this fall.

Attend the Aerial Insectivore Conference:

WBCI/Bird City Annual Conference:


There are swift watches happening in various locations around the state. See the Bird City Wisconsin calendar: Bird City Wisconsin calendar

Monday, July 16, 2018

Learn more about aerial insectivores

Common Nighthawk - Ph. Nick Myatt, Wikim. Commons
 There's a lot of information now available about aerial insectivores - which species are declining, what threats they face, and how their ecology is similar or different from species-to-species. And there are several opportunities for you to become involved in their monitoring and conservation, and to learn more. 

One of the fascinating behaviors witnessed this year is exhibited by swifts and a number of other bird species around the world: young of the previous year travel back to act as "helpers at the nest" - assisting their parents to raise this year's young. Read about this in Alexander Skutch's book: Helpers at Birds' Nests: A Worldwide Survey of Cooperative Breeding and Related Behavior. (1999, University of Iowa Press.)

Join us at one of three upcoming August events - and/or at the WBCI/Bird City Annual Conference in the Waukesha area Sept 6-8:

Aerial Insectivores, Cutright Bird Club, Riveredge Nature Center, 7pm on August 7th

Aerial Insectivores, Green Lake Bird & Nature Club, 630pm, Green Lake Town Square Building

WBCI/Bird City Annual Conference:



Swift Night Out events provide observers with a chance to view the annual spectacle of hundreds (or more!) of Chimney Swifts at one or more of their autumn roost sites. 

Chimney Swift in flight - Ph. Jim McCulloch, Wikim. Commons
Just a few examples:

Swift Night Out - Green Bay Aug 18  - contact Nancy Nabak at

Swift Night Out  -Two Rivers Sept 13th - contact Nancy Nabak at

Monday, July 2, 2018

severe bird species declines in Europe

Severe bird species declines in Europe should concern all of us. These mirror recent declines of aerial insectivores in Canada, and some areas of the United States.

"...over the last 17 years, one third of birds have disappeared from French farmland."

 "'The situation is catastrophic,' laments Benoît Fontaine, conservation biologist from the Cesco at the National Museum of Natural History. 'Our farmland is turning into a real desert.' 'Populations of all bird species are literally collapsing in the cereal-growing prairies,' adds Vincent Bretagnolle, ecologist at the Centre for Biological Studies at Chizé and director of the Sèvre Plains & Valley area. 'Partridge are now practically extinct within our study zone.'

 Read more at:

Ortolan Bunting -  Ph. by Zeynel Cebeci - Wikim. Commons

an editorial, via the Ecological Citizen

Here's a recent editorial worth reading and pondering.

From the introduction: 

"The human enterprise is eradicating non-human life on Earth. The WWF’s
Living Planet Report 2016 reveals that,worldwide, wildlife populations declined
by 58% between 1970 (itself too late for a proper base year) and 2012, with the
expectation that this decline will reach 67% by 2020 (WWF, 2016). In Canada, my home,
the situation is similar: half of 903 species monitored saw population declines over the
same period, and the average for half of these was a population loss of 83% (WWF-Canada,
2017). ... As I write this, reports show that bird populations in the French countryside have
declined there by more than a third in just the past 17 years – a situation described by
conservation biologists as 'catastrophic' (Geffroy, 2018).

You can read this entire issue of the Ecological Citizen at:

Ph. by Joaquim Alves Gaspar; Wikim. Commons