Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MCAMMP in 2008

We're ready to start off another year of the MCAMMP project. Please join us for an interesting afternoon at the Urban Ecology Center on Sunday, March 2nd, for the third annual MCAMMP Volunteer Workshop. If you've worked with us before, come and see what we've been up to since last fall, and learn about the plans for this year. If you have NOT been previously been part of this project, come and find out about it.

As most of you already know, in fall of 2007 we received the Citizen-based Monitoring Network Project of the Year Award from the CBM Network and Wisconsin DNR. Our volunteers and interns have done exceptional work on mistnetting and banding, transect counts, and vegetation sampling and analysis on our existing 8 study sites in Milwaukee County. We gave presentations at a number of locations and events throughout last year, and this year will be no exception. One exciting piece of news is that MCAMMP partners will present a symposium on Citizen Science at this year's Ecological Society of America annual meeting, which will fortunately for us be held in Milwaukee this year. The ESA is one of the largest professional organizations of ecologists in the world, and this symposium (created, organized and moderated by our research partners Chris Lepczyk, Owen Boyle, and Tim Vargo) will invite experts from around the world to discuss citizen science and its application in ecology. Following the week-long ESA meetings, there will be a follow-up event with symposium attendees at the Urban Ecology Center. We received funding for this symposium as part of a grant provided by the Wisconsin Energy Foundation - this will allow us to help with travel costs for participants coming from outside of the United States.

In 2008 we will continue to gather vegetation data, do transect counts, mist-net and band birds, and take blood samples from a group of bird species. If you are interested in participating in any aspect of this project, please attend this March workshop. If you cannot attend the workshop, please contact any research team member to get answers to any questions you may have about the project.

Our plan is to continue to gather data throughout 2008 and 2009. We have applied for additional funding; we have a PhD student working as a GIS intern with our spatial dataset, and both our avian and botanical data entry and analysis continue as I write this to you. There are many exciting things yet in store for MCAMMP. If you've helped in the past, and would like a new challenge this year, you can switch gears and work on another aspect of the project. If you've enjoyed what you've done and wish to continue working on that, we heartily welcome you to do so. Please contact any of us by e-mail or phone if you have questions. The contact information for the research partners is listed on the MCAMMP webpage, here.

Have a great late-winter, and I hope to see all of you in March at the UEC.

Monday, January 28, 2008

conservation news Jan. 28

If you've been thinking about helping to raise funds for bird conservation in Wisconsin this year, one thing you might consider is joining those of us who are doing a "Big Green Big Year" (the "Bigby") this year. There is also a focused conservation fundraising effort underway this year to benefit the Golden-winged Warbler.

Find out more about these efforts at previous posts on this blog, here, and more about the Wisconsin Golden-winged Warbler conservation campaign here. Consider combining these two projects into one!


Learn about the activities of the Natural Resources Foundation at their website, and specifically their bird conservation campaign, at this link.


Look for more information on the Kirtland's Warbler in Wisconsin during the coming months. To learn more about this species, look at the WBCI All-Bird Conservation Plan species account page, here, and the Cornell All About Birds species account here. You may also wish to read the BirdLife International Factsheet on this species, here.


Recent publications from BirdLife International are listed here. Although it is becoming well-known that one in eight bird species are threatened worldwide, this is not emphasized nearly enough, in my estimation. You can find a summary of ways to help at this link, and a list of ways that BirdLife advocates for change at this link.

USFWS Div. of Migratory Bird Management resources

Find an array of liinks to news and information at the webpage of the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management, here.

Here is just a partial list of topics:

Aircraft-Wildlife Strikes
Avoiding and Minimizing Wildlife Impacts from Wind Turbines
West Nile Virus - Sources of Information
Approved Nontoxic Shot Types
Avian Collisions at Communication Towers - Sources of Information
Cats and Birds: A Deadly Combination

Friday, January 25, 2008

protect indigenous lands and wildlife in Ontario

PLEASE send an e-mail to respond to this situation:

"Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) and nine First Nations have called for a moratorium to mining and forestry on their lands in the Boreal Forest. But big extractive industries and the government are ignoring them. Companies continue to fly in extraction equipment, open up roads, and further fragment the ecosystems First Nations and other Canadians depend upon. CPAWS Wildlands League supports KI as they continue their struggle against unwanted mineral exploration on their lands. "

Go to this link, and send a message through the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society(CPAWS). It only takes a moment. Lend your support to indigenous people and wildlife!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

conserv. news

Conservation-related news:

Speak up for wildlife: be part of the greatest victory in wildlife conservation history! It takes only a few minutes. Go to this link at the National Wildlife Federation website.


Read about the theme of, and plans for the 2008 International Migratory Bird Day, here.


Watch some great video from the Bird News Network here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

climate change bird and tree atlases; boreal bird blog

Researchers at the U.S. Forest Service have developed a Climate Change Bird Atlas and Climate Change Tree Atlas. The former is a very useful reference to me right now, as I and a few colleagues work on the WBCI Issues Committee Climate Change and Birds Issues Paper. I'm pleased to be able to report that you can make use of these references without the need for ordering a hard copy; both are now online, at this link.

To see any of the other WBCI Issues Papers, (including papers on lead poisoning and birds, free-ranging cats and birds, ethical birding, or wind power and birds) go here.


If you come here to read this blog now and then, you've probably noticed that I refer to the Boreal Songbird Initiative fairly often. Dr. Jeff Wells is their senior scientist, and here's a link to his blog. Dr. Wells also has a new book you may have heard about. The Birder's Conservation Handbook is worth a look.

the press, the candidates, the climate

Get the press to ask some serious questions about climate change on the campaign trail. Go to the petition at this link, for the Alliance for Climate Protection. See more about this organization and what they're up to, here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the river changes every day


This winter I am doing part of my "Big Green Big Year" (otherwise known as a "Bigby") searching for birds along the Hank Aaron State Trail, which follows the Menomonee River, and goes through an area of former industrial "brownfields" in Milwaukee's center. The vegetation along parts of the trail is being gradually restored. The river changes every day; like every body of water, no matter where you live, the light and the weather and the time of day cause the water to present a different face, along with changes in the adjacent land. In a matter of a few weeks, these similar views have dramatically changed.
Since it is winter, the number and diversity of birds is much diminished compared with other seasons. Compared to "Bigbyists" at other latitudes, I am not likely to find a long list of species...and yet there are rewards. Having arrived at these locations on foot, finding fewer species is not a disappointment. The waterfowl found along the river at this season consists of Canada geese and Mallards. A Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel constitute the usual array of raptors (although a Cooper's Hawk may occasionally be found here as well). Herring gulls continually forage along this stretch of the river. Both Mourning Dove and Rock Pigeon, House Finch and American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, and House Sparrow are common here, but are rounded out by a few more-noteworthy winter residents, including a Belted Kingfisher today. I've expected cardinals, nuthatches, crows and blue jays, but have seen none here this week. All of this is due to change as we move into late February, and the first migrants will begin to appear. That's more than a month away...so we'll see what else shows up between now and then.

conservation news January 16

If you haven't recently looked at the website for the Wisconsin All-bird Conservation Plan, it is becoming more valuable with every passing week. Take a look at it, here.


The new "Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds" has been released, with new analyses of the effects of climate change on birds across Europe. "The atlas shows that three quarters of all Europe's nesting bird species are likely to suffer declines in range", and these "could set some species on a path to extinction". To read more about this atlas, go to BirdLife's site, here.


Canada's boreal forest is a huge storehouse of carbon! This is another vital reason to protect it, in addition to its importance to birds. Read more at this link.


One of the best ornithological/conservation research and advocacy organizations in the United States is the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. See new information they have about climate change and what you can do, at this link. See more about all of the good work PRBO is doing at their main webpage, here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Big Green Big Year

A new effort to generate some friendly competition among birders while saving fuel and raising awareness about carbon emissions and resulting climate change is being known as "Bigbying". This is not only wise, but fun! See more about it at this link. Read more about my southeastern Wisconsin Bigby efforts in future posts. I'll never reach the number of species found by birders doing a more typical "big year", but I'll bet I'm going to have just as much fun as they do.

Read more about another environmentally-conscious birding adventure (The Bird Year) in this previous post.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

oak savanna


If you can imagine a large expanse of grassland with widely-spaced spreading oaks like this one, you might see in your mind's eye the oak savanna that once occupied 2.3 million hectares of Wisconsin's land area. The "oak opening" savanna type was a prominent pre-settlement plant community. This was a habitat that was home to the Red-headed Woodpecker.

Behind the tree pictured here, the present-day landscape grades into shrub carr and wet meadow. This particular landscape is just east of the marshes that lie alongside the south branch of the Manitowoc River, which here flows through western Calumet and northern Fond du Lac counties. I feel at home in a landscape like this. Unfortunately, this and other sections like it are so fragmented that many of the species that once lived here have dramatically diminished in number and diversity.

Savanna restoration is being done in some areas in the Midwest, however...and that is good news for those species, and for people who wish to preserve them.