Thursday, July 18, 2013

birds and birding at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve this fall

When you receive the fall issue of The Passenger Pigeon (if you're a WSO member), you'll notice in the fall Seasonal Report that an increasing number of reports originate at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, a property of the Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust. If you have not read about, heard about, or visited the preserve yet, I strongly recommend that you do so in the coming season. The Land Trust has done an amazing job on the habitat restoration work, and August through November at  Forest Beach is a special time, with spectacular displays of wildflowers in the restored grasslands and savannah, more than 20 wetlands, and forested sections. The wetlands are due to have drawdowns very soon, making mudflats ready for migrant shorebirds (see more at: ). The first of those shorebirds is present now (Solitary Sandpiper), with more to arrive in the coming weeks.

Visit anytime during daylight  hours, walk the trails, and enjoy the diverse habitats and the birds they attract. That's what this preserve is devoted to doing: attracting migratory birds. See:

Right now, many summer wildflowers are in bloom (Penstemon, black-eyed susan, coneflower, tick trefoil), with many more due to flower in the peak month of August. That's also a great time to visit to see shorebirds and other waterbirds. September and October are becoming better known here for good raptor flights, and we have the Bill Cowart Memorial hawkwatch platform dedicated for that purpose. As autumn approaches, I'll be asking for volunteers to help monitor and count raptors on good raptor flight days. Especially good numbers of Merlins have been seen in some autumns, with 15 total raptor species seen. Get in touch with me if you're interested (e-mail address below). Many other landbird species are found here as well, with a total of 235 species found here in just the last 4 years.

See also:

When you plan a visit, check in with us (when we're here) on the lower east end of the main building, in the office of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (WGLBBO; see If you want to use or browse in our ornithological library, check with me for times or arrange a time when you'd like to visit. We loan ornithological books or journals, or you can read while you visit. (Contact Bill Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, ). Directions to Forest Beach and the Observatory:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the fourth State of the Birds report

From the report: This " fourth State of the Birds report highlights the enormous contributions private landowners make to bird and habitat conservation, and opportunities for increased contributions. Roughly 60% of land area in the United States (1.43 billion acres) is privately owned by millions of individuals, families, organizations, and corporations, including 2 million ranchers and farmers and about 10 million woodland owners. More than 100 species have 50% or more of their U.S. breeding distribution on private lands."

Find the report at this link

Monday, July 15, 2013

the news on loons in Canada

See this paper for detailed research results on Canada's loons.


The abstract:

Reproductive success of Common Loons (Gavia immer) is a powerful indicator of aquatic ecosystem health, especially in relation to mercury and acid precipitation. We examined relationships between Common Loon reproductive success and longitude, year, lake area, and pH across southern Canada using data collected from 1992 to 2010 by participants in Bird Studies Canada’s Canadian Lakes Loon Survey. Our goal was to indirectly describe the health of lakes in southern Canada with respect to mercury and acid precipitation. The overall model-predicted number of six-week-old young per pair per year was 0.59 (95% confidence limits: 0.56–0.62). Six-week-old young per pair per year decreased by 0.19 from west-to-east (−127° to −52° longitude), decreased by 0.14 between 1992 and 2010, increased by 0.22 as lake area increased from 10 to 3000 ha, and increased by 0.43 as acidity decreased from pH 5 to 9. The relationships were likely linked to acid- and temperature-mediated exposure to methylmercury and/or acid-induced reductions in forage fish. The temporal decrease was unexpectedly steeper in southwestern than in southeastern Canada. Projections suggested that reproductive success across southern Canada may not drop below the demographic source-sink threshold until ~2016 (range: 2009-2029). Reproductive success on pH 6.0 lakes, however, may have passed below the source-sink threshold as early as ~2001 (1995-2009), whereas reproductive success on pH 8.0 lakes may not pass below the threshold until ~2034 (2019-2062). There were ~0.1 more six-week-old young per pair per year on 2500 ha lakes than on 20 ha lakes. Reproductive success crossed below the source-sink threshold on 20 ha lakes at pH 6.4 (5.8–7.1) and on 2500 ha lakes at pH 5.5 (4.1–6.6). Our results show that citizen science is powerful for monitoring ecosystem health and indirectly support further action to abate emissions of mercury and the harmful components of acid precipitation throughout North America and globally.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

excellent new birding book

This is an absolutely wonderful new book! And it is useful in so many ways...not just for planning "green" birding adventures. It details many ideas for great trips, ways to keep and use your data, habitat improvement, green birding as a "sport", etc. Check it out - Green Birding, by Richard Gregson. I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

improved your backyard habitat? now what?

If you've managed to improve the habitat for birds in your yard, what's the next step? Keep them  alive, by helping your neighborhood birds avoid window collisions. It's important during migration, but also during this time of year when young birds are just learning to navigate around their new surroundings. See this page from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

ABA 2013 Bird of the Year: Common Nighthawk

The American Birding Association chose the Common Nighthawk as Bird of the Year for 2013, for many good reasons. Learn more at the ABA website on the Bird of the Year, here --- as well as these other excellent web sources:

Cornell's All About Birds page devoted to the nighthawk

NYDEC nighthawk factsheet

Province of Ontario nighthawk facts

New Hampshire Project Nighthawk

W. Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory Project Nighthawk

Thursday, July 4, 2013

ten things you can do for migratory birds

See the Audubon At Home website here to learn ten ways you can help migratory birds.
Magnolia Warbler by W. H.Majoros

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

weather effects on birds - summer 2013

I've written about this multiple times here before; here are some more sources on weather effects on bird populations. A new paper in PLOS One  shows results of weather conditions on European passerines.

National Wildlife Federation scientists mentioned in this article describe climate effects on bird populations.

BirdCast has recent posts here, including weather-related information about New England's coastal storm.

BirdWatch Ireland has weather-and-birds info mainly provided for schoolchildren, here.

How do tornadoes affect birds? - (from Audubon magazine: here.)