Wednesday, December 22, 2010

news from here and there

See the latest BirdLife International news here.

Here's some recent bat conservation news.

A number of biodiversity conservation sites, with recent initiatives and other news - some of which may be new to you - are linked here, here, and here.

An array of native plant societies throughout the U.S. and elsewhere are carrying on plant biodiversity conservation; see links to their sites and what they're up to, here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

tracking the fall migration of scaup

Go to this site to see satellite telemetry mapping of the fall migration of scaup - done by Bird Studies Canada and some collaborators.

Monday, December 13, 2010

latest news from BirdLife International

The recent climate talks in Cancun produced a number of results - read about them from the perspective of BirdLife International at this link.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

progress in Cancun?

If you are a "glass-half-full" sort of person, your perspective may be that progress is being made at the climate talks in Cancun. See the BirdLife news page here. Reporters from other environmental groups take a somewhat dimmer view, however: FOE declares the results to be a mixed bag - see this link.

Friday, December 10, 2010

news from the American Bird Conservancy and BirdLife International

The latest bird news from the American Bird Conservancy is linked here.

Other news, from BirdLife International, can be found here.

birds & climate change

Read a brief summary of information on birds & climate change at this link from Audubon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

learn more about the conservation of bats

Navigate your way to the website of Bat Conservation International to learn about current threats to bat populations, and how this organization is doing something about these issues.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Forest Beach raptor watch observation site

Forest Beach Migratory Preserve now has its new raptor watch platform. It's a bit too late for this year, but will be there for next year's "Big Sit" and many days of raptor watches. Photos here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

news from Birdlife International on halting extinctions

News on a partnership intended to slow the process of extinction for species in developing countries was announced at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10th Conference of the parties (CBD COP 10). Read more at BirdLife International's news page. Additional news topics can be found at this link.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

offshore waterfowl and waterbird surveys done by aircraft in Lake Michigan

I and three colleagues (Noel Cutright, Joelle Gehring of Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and Nancy Seefelt of Central Michigan University) wrote a grant proposal last winter to survey offshore waters of the western part of Lake Michigan for waterfowl, loons, etc. Our proposal was funded, and we started surveys a few weeks ago. Today, in a survey block offshore from Sturgeon Bay and just southeast of there, we had over 60,000 birds - mostly Red-breasted Mergansers.

These surveys are being done to learn about offshore concentrations of waterfowl and waterbirds to prepare for eventual offshore wind development in the Lake.

Kevin Kenow of USGS was also funded for a similar set of surveys, in the more northerly areas of the Lake, including on the Michigan side. Kevin's work started out some years ago with a focus on loons, which have experienced excessive mortality from avian botulism. Kevin has found birds as far as 18 or more miles offshore, in areas of the lake that we did not previously expect to have concentrations of birds. He has also found large numbers of mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks in very deep water, far offshore.

We are looking for numbers/concentrations of birds, and the geographic areas where they are found. Today's numbers indicate that our guess was correct - there are large numbers well offshore.

More news to come in the forthcoming months of the study.

Bill Mueller
Conservation Chair - Wisconsin Society for Ornithology

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Healthy Ecosystems are Essential for Human Well-Being

Support Conservation International's goal to protect and effectively manage at least 25 percent of Earth's land and inland waters and 15 percent of marine ecosystems by 2020. Sign the Conservation International petition at this link.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

news - birds and collisions

Many things are in the news about birds and collisions this year.

This story tells about a new product that can help if you are building or renovating.

See the US Fish & Wildlife webpage on this topic.

Read a recent flyer on Lights Out for Birds here.

The latest on this subject from the American Bird Conservancy is linked here.

And here's a recent Issues Paper on the topic from the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

Friday, October 8, 2010

bird conservation news

At the international level, see the most recent BirdLife International news stories at this link.

For news from the American Bird Conservancy, go to their news link.

If you have not looked there in a while, go the the website of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

And check out Bird City Wisconsin at their website.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring

The Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring website (linked here) is an online storehouse of information, organized and maintained by Katie Koch of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. You can find a wealth of information about monitoring programs for volunteers or professional researchers across the Midwest, check out the Monitoring Registry, find a link to the new and emerging Midwest Avian Data Center, develop your own page, or find a wide array of opportunities at the site. It is, as accurately described, "a regional network for bird conservation committed to coordination and exchange of monitoring information in a decision-based framework". Spend some time at the site and learn more - it has a very readable format and is continually being updated.

Monday, September 27, 2010

birds & wildlife: climate change and the US Fish & Wildlife Service

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has developed a strategy to deal with climate change. There are "estimates that approximately 20-30 percent of the world’s plant and animal species assessed as of 2006 are likely to be at increasingly high risk of extinction as global mean temperatures exceed a warming of 2 – 3°C above preindustrial levels". You can read about their planning at this link.

Friday, September 17, 2010

sturgeon release - you can participate!

It's that time of year again, for the fabulous Sturgeon event at Riveredge Nature Center. Riveredge and the Wisconsin DNR, a group of Volunteers, Sponsors and Donors will release imprinted sturgeons into the Milwaukee River once again. Saturday, October 2, 2010, is STURGEON FEST --- the 5th Annual Return of the Lake Sturgeon to the Milwaukee River. You can sponsor and release your own sturgeon - go to their website, to learn how you can participate!

Friday, September 10, 2010

birds and biodiversity

See this news page from Birdlife International on the value of preserving biodiversity, and find more about the International Year of Biodiversity.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

review of new field guide: Birds of Australia

The new Eighth Edition of The Birds of Australia (Princeton University Press) is an innovative example of a field guide with features not found in many other books. Ken Simpson and Nicolas Day, with Peter Trusler have produced a book that raises the bar for the next generation of birding field guides. The 132 color plates are excellent, detailed range maps are what we've come to expect - but what sets this book apart is its superb scheme of organization, including the following unique elements:
a) A section on vegetation and land form habitats of Australia, called "where the birds live".
b) Breeding information, organized by family, with the calendar year detailing the month in which the groups described are known to breed. Australia's birds are closely tied in many cases to seasonal rainy periods, but there are months in which the species primarily breed, and then for some a secondary breeding period.
c) The "Vagrant Bird Bulletin" focusing on the rarest species.
d) A set of Australian Island territories bird checklists, for islands not yet visited by most birders, and needing more information.
e) A useful set of Appendices, including an excellent "Hints for Birdwatchers", and a Glossary.
f) A list of birding and naturalist organizations, and
g) a bibliography the authors call "The Core Library" arranged by important topics.
All in all, this is one of the best guides I've yet seen. The successive editions have exhibited continual improvement.

Friday, August 27, 2010

news: pesticide being phased out, plus new reports from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

The pesticide Aldicarb, which has been implicated in bird mortality, is being phased out as part of new EPA rules - read more at this link. The American Bird Conservancy has more information on their website.


The most recent reports from the massive undertaking known as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment can be found here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

extraordinary people

********* I had the privilege of working with some extraordinary people this summer. I don't want to embarrass them, so I won't say too much. But part of the reason it was worth going into the field every day was because I was working with them: Amber McDougle, Hasan Damra, and Arik Skromme. Thanks to all three of you, for a month of days in the sun and wind, and rain and hail!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MCAMMP and The Milwaukee BIOME Project for autumn 2010

MCAMMP and the Milwaukee BIOME project are firing up again for autumn - in fact, we didn't really shut down at all this summer. In addition to our bird banding at Milwaukee's Riverside Park, transect counts for migratory birds on eight study sites, and other aspects of the projects we're working on, we've been doing bat surveys also this year, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program (see their website here ). If you're interested in learning more, see the Milwaukee BIOME Project webpage, (here), or contact me at , Tim Vargo at Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center at , or Owen Boyle at the Wisconsin DNR at , or Jenn Callaghan at .

Monday, August 9, 2010

the next steps: where do we go with lead?

A news article in the New York Times, linked here, describes efforts to get the EPA to ban lead in all hunting ammunition and fishing tackle. A petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and the American Bird Conservancy seeks this change from EPA, based on evidence of lead poisoning in many species. Lead shot is already banned for hunting waterfowl, and recent legislation in California does that for ammunition for big game, within the range of the California Condor. There are many studies that show the harmful or indeed lethal effects of accidental ingestion of lead bullet fragments in deer and other carcasses (or the "gut piles" left after field dressing of game animals) by eagles and other raptors, and accidental ingestion of lead tackle in waters by Trumpeter Swans and loons.

Opponents of such regulatory changes assert that saving individual animals is not meaningful in terms of "population level effects" - in other words, they contend that populations of Bald Eagles and Trumpeter Swans and loons are not significantly affected by lead poisoning, so regulating against such potential poisoning is not clearly in the interests of conservation of wildlife populations. But there are other issues at stake. Many view the evolution of regulatory efforts on behalf of wildlife as heading in the direction of "doing the right thing" - even if it isn't always (or only) based on science. I would suggest that learning all that one can learn on this topic is wise - voting, referenda, and accurate determinations by state and federal regulators will depend on their (and our) level of preparedness and knowledge. If you feel strongly about this - let your legislators know. What do you think - is it really time to consign the use of lead to the history books?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

new paper on birds and collisions

The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI) Issues Committee has a new Issues Paper on Birds and Collisions on the WBCI website; find it at this link .

This paper summarizes much current information on this topic.

Work continues on additional Issues Papers - visit the site periodically to see others as they become available. Other Issues Papers can be found here. Previously-published papers are being updated with current information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

new article on birds and pesticides

A recent article on the effects of pesticides on birds can be found linked here - along with other news from BirdWatch Canada, here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

perfect day in the grasslands

Today was one of those incredible days in the grasslands in Carter County, Montana. A wonderful array of clouds and cool temperatures in the low 60s started things off. Shortgrass plains with sagebrush, prickly pear, and many wildflowers were the backdrop for pronghorns, white-tailed jackrabbit, and a group of spectacular grassland birds. They included Ferruginous and Swainson's Hawks, Marbled Godwit and Upland Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope and Yellow-headed Blackbird, Lark Bunting, Grasshopper Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Western Meadowlark.

One of the ultimate prairie grassland bird species provided my peak musical experience from the natural world this year. High above the ground, three successive male Sprague's Pipits sang their silvery notes while performing their aerial displays. Sprague's Pipit does one of the the longest combined flight and song displays in the avian world - it can last up to three hours. I will never forget this experience.

The day heated up into the low 80s, with an intermittent breeze out of the north. Grassland birds continued to sing all around us.

But that was not all - not even close. After noon, a sudden powerful storm came up, and because we were more than three miles from the road and our vehicles, there was nowhere to hide. The storm started with dark cumulonimbus clouds and wind, then large raindrops. Soon this turned into hail, with many hailstones greater than 30mm in size. This lasted for approximately 25-35 minutes, during which time it was actually painful to be pelted hundreds of times by this large-diameter hail. Most of us have many welts on our arms, necks, and shoulders. Because we were working, we had hardhats on - indeed it is the only time I can truthfully say I was glad to be wearing a hardhat!

Soon the hail abated, and more rain fell, soaking us all. In another hour, the sun emerged again, and Western Meadowlarks showed once more that singing is a good response to the events of any summer day in these grasslands.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

news of Maine's seabird islands

Go to this link to read news of nesting bird surveys on Maine's seabird islands.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

badlands birds

In addition to a few large bull bison, my choice for "pick of the day" yesterday in Theodore Roosevelt National Park were a number of spectacular Lazuli Buntings. I also found many Lark Sparrows, and a number of Yellow-breasted Chats, among many other species. But the landscape itself is beyond gorgeous.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

reporting banded shorebirds

Southbound migrant shorebirds will soon be appearing - read about reporting banded shorebirds at this link.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

news from BirdLife International

News from BirdLife International is available at this link.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

climate change and waterfowl

Why care about climate change? If you are interested in future waterfowl populations, here's why - Go to this link.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

IGBP Global Change magazine online

Download the most recent issue of Global Change magazine at the website of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. Worthwhile reading in this very fine online international journal - helps to identify global trends and understand them in the context of current events.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

revised and updated edition of the Birds of Peru

The Revised and Updated Edition of the Birds of Peru, (2010, Princeton University Press) is a worthy successor to the original edition. A country with an amazing 1,817 species of birds surely needs a comprehensive guide to portray them, and this book ably accomplishes this task. The authors (Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O’Neill, and the late Theodore A. Parker III) have or had vast experience with the avifauna and the extraordinary geography of Peru. Encompassing this breadth of information is no small task - the diversity of species is stunning, as of course are many of the birds themselves. I direct you to the 121 hummingbird species as only one example, or the tanagers as another, or the wide array of parrot, manakin, or flycatcher species as further proof.

The majority of Peru’s birds are permanent residents, but both boreal and austral migrants are well-represented. Considering the size of the geographic region that contains all of these species is made more remarkable by the range of habitats, from Amazonian forests, to montane, elfin, dry, white-sand, and Polylepis forests, mangroves, savanna, puna (dry grasslands at high elevations), paramo (humid grasslands at high elevations), marshes, lakes, seacoast, bamboo, bogs, and the special category known as “treefall gaps.” Peru varies topographically from the low Amazonian Basin, to the high Andes. This guide manages to say something about all of these factors and how bird species relate to them.

The plates are amazingly thorough, again considering the extent of the task involved in covering more than 1,800 species. Each facing page has a species account and map. The text for each species is limited to about one-sixth of the page, and the maps are small, but these features make this 664-page volume a real “use-in-the-field” book. It’s quite an accomplishment.

Highly recommended for anyone venturing to this part of the world - how will they top this?

See more at the website of Princeton University Press, at this link.

Monday, May 24, 2010

the importance of urban forests for birds

Research demonstrates the importance of urban forests for birds: see this link.

climate change and birds - Forest Service research

Information regarding research on climate change and its effects on birds from the Climate Change Resource Center of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service is available at this link.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

bog flora in May - eastcentral Wisconsin

It's that time of year when a walk into a Wisconsin bog will provide views of these special plants: in this case the starflower (Trientalis borealis) - not only found in bogs; the moccasin flower or pink lady's slipper (Cypripedium acaule), and the wild calla (Calla palustris ). These plants were seen near the boardwalk in Spruce Lake Bog in Fond du Lac County.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Partners in Flight - and Bird Conservation

Saving Our Shared Birds: Partners in Flight Tri-National Vision for Landbird Conservation, is a new report, issued online and in hardcopy formats. Go to this website to read either the complete report, or an overview.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The most important threat to bird populations...

"The most serious threat facing animal populations today is habitat destruction.
Rampant urbanization in the eastern United States has caused declines or regional disappearance in many songbird populations." To follow up on this information, go to the Urban Ecology webpage of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Purple Martin news

Find some news about an effort to help Purple Martins at the Purple Martins in Wisconsin blog.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

help birds on the Gulf after oil spill

Help oiled birds in the Gulf after the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill by going to the website of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

alternative birding and conservation news

International Migratory Bird Day news can be found here.

Remember the following IMBD activities:
a) at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve on May 8th (see more at this link)
b) other WI locations; info at this link...


News from Bird Studies Canada can be found here.


Living Bird is Cornell's magazine and also a website.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Milwaukee BIOME Project

The Milwaukee BIOME Project held its annual spring workshop for 2010 at the Urban Ecology Center on Sunday, April 18th. BIOME is an expansion of MCAMMP - the Milw. Co. Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership. Presentations were given by Brian Russart on the Milwaukee County Natural Areas program, Owen Boyle on 164 Years of Vegetation Change in Milwaukee County, Dave Redell on the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Project, Tim Vargo on MCAMMP's and UEC's bird banding station and the UEC's environmental education efforts, and Bill Mueller on the BIOME Project, and its emerging outgrowth from MCAMMP. Thanks to the presenters, BIOME's science team, volunteers, and the workshop attendees, plus J. Paul White and Loren Ayers from WDNR for their input and assistance this year.
The Milwaukee BIOME Project and MCAMMP will continue its research on avian stopover ecology in Milwaukee County, and begin bat monitoring this year, to be followed by research on invertebrates and other taxa. If you'd like to learn more about the BIOME project, go to the webpage.

Friday, April 23, 2010

updates from IUCN, Worldwatch

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, "helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges." Learn more about their activities at their website. Find out about their initiatives in these areas:
Climate change
Sustainable energy
Human well-being
Green economy

Also - find out about the activities of The Worldwatch Institute at their website. Recent news includes information on how Wildlife Conservation Offers Economic Benefits for Zimbabwe Farmers. Worldwatch focuses on the themes of people, nature, economy, and energy - learn morre through their excellent publications and online information.

Friday, April 16, 2010

alternative birding and conservation news

Read information about the American Bird Conservancy's conservation birding initiative at this link.

Recent news from Partners in Flight is at their website, linked here.

More items from the Boreal Songbird Initiative are here.

Some new information resulting from the research activities of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology is on their site.

News from the Institute for Bird Populations is here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

near the roost

At about 7:00 pm last Monday night, we were encamped in the upland forest in Lake of the Ozarks State Park in west-central Missouri. Not far away - less than 70 meters from our position - a few Turkey Vultures came in and settled for their night roost. At first, we thought that would be it - but as the minutes passed, more and more came into a group of four or five large canopy trees. By the time it was almost dark, nearly 90 birds had chosen this site for their nocturnal resting place. Other than a few wing flaps during the first few minutes of settling down, they made no sound. At about 6:15 am the following morning, they started leaving in groups of 3 to 10 or more, with one large exodus of about 25 birds. Birds were still leaving at about 7:30 am. I had never spent that much time near a large roosting concentration. Very much gravitas.

colors of an Ozark spring

The colors of an Ozark spring are spectacular, from the pink of Wild Pink Silene caroliniana, to the more radical pink of the many thousands of Redbuds (Cercis canadensis), to the extraordinary blue of the Blue Spring. This amazing body of water puts forth 90 million gallons of water on average every day! At 300 feet, it is Missouri's deepest spring. It flows into the Current River, in Shannon County.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Missouri Ozarks spring travels, part 1

Among our favorite sites during the past week in Missouri was Elephant Rocks state natural area near Belleview. The area of huge granite boulders encompasses a number of "tinajitas" - natural depressions that collect water, like the large one shown here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

crossing the Mississippi

It's early April, and we set out to travel southward and westward in search of some early spring flowers and migrant birds. At Chester, Illinois, we crossed the "big river" into Missouri. A theme that recurred day after day was the unfolding of spring flowers - at least multiple days or even 2 weeks ahead of the flora at home in southeastern Wisconsin. That's no surprise, of course. So this is "the year of two spring seasons" for us.
Another recurring theme: no Tree Swallows. In six days, I never saw a single Tree Swallow in southern Illinois or all of Missouri, although I did note a few Purple Martins in southwest Illinois, a few N. Rough-winged Swallows in the Ozarks, and a few Barn Swallows in a wide variety of locations. What is the answer to the missing Tree Swallows? More on that in the coming few posts, plus other scenes and notes on flora, fauna, landscape, and history. The Mississippi River is a geographic and perhaps a psychological point of focus...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

the study of natural history and its place in conservation

Yes, I know it's April 1st, but I'm not fooling around - this post actually does deal with a serious topic. Ecology has shifted away from the study of natural history in many ways. But see this editorial in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology.

The citation for the article is:

Villard, M.-A., and T. D. Nudds. 2009. Whither natural history in conservation research?. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 4(2): 6. [online] URL:

Best wishes to you all for a good month ahead. I'll be gone for a while - looking for early wildflowers and early migrants about 6-700 miles south/southwest of my current location.

Monday, March 29, 2010

International Migratory Bird Day at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Ozaukee County

Come to Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Ozaukee County for International Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, May 8th. Activities begin at 7:30 am, and go up to 12 noon, with hourly bird walks, presentations, and informational booths for adults and kids - including news and updates on this new avian migratory stopover site, now being developed by the Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, with help from the Wisconsin DNR, and The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. For more information, contact the Land Trust at 262-338-1794, or the Fish & Wildlife Service at 920-866-1717.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

alternative birding news

The Great Lakes Information Network has a Birds of the Great Lakes Region webpage; it has some recent news articles.


Although this piece originates in the UK where they are fairly rare, this page on Baird's Sandpiper is worth reading for anyone interested in this species.

A new "Heart of the Boreal" website is here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

book review: The Birds of Europe

Princeton University Press has a new edition of a favorite field guide: Birds of Europe (Second Edition), by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, and Dan Zetterstrom (with text and maps by the former, and illustrations by the latter two). This excellent new edition meets all of my criteria for usefulness: highly-readable text, excellent layout, fine maps and beautiful, accurate illustrations that help the reader come to grips with the fine points of identification. I'll use mine on a trip to the UK next year, and the very packable size of this volume will be much appreciated. I'll use it here in North America as well; some rarities from Europe show up on our continent every year.

The artwork is especially well-conceived. One of the European species I always page to when looking through a new book is the Wallcreeper: the set of four illustrations for this species depicts this spectacularly-plumaged bird in both sexes, in flight, and on a vertical cliff in its rocky habitat. I'm amazed at the amount of visual information packed into a small space on the page.

The introductory section has a fine discussion on molt, and a kind of "shorthand guide" to relative abundance for the UK and Ireland that could be very useful if offered in North American field guides, although the sheer size of the geographic area of this continent would make portraying a range of abundance across vast regions a feat more difficult to attain.

If there is anything I'd still ask for, it would be a more durable cover. But that's not much. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

what are these bloggers up to lately?

While looking through the list of blogs I read every so often, I read Mike McDowell's blog, and enjoyed it as I always do. Carl Safina's blog has moved, and after finding it again, read his recent post on bluefin tuna. And then, on toward Laura Erickson's blog - that's as far as I had time to read...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

alternative birding and conservation news

An array of information is available at the following links:

News from the American Bird Conservancy is linked here.

The Boreal Songbird Initiative news page is here.

Video from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is now linked here.

News from the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network is here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ozaukee County's gems

If you spend time looking for birds or otherwise enjoying the many fine natural areas in Wisconsin's Ozaukee County, you'll enjoy the new Treasures of Oz website, and the many activities this organization is bringing together in 2010. To learn more about the "treasures", and events - go to their site and find out what they've got planned for this year!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Human-ecosystem interactions: Perspectives from Long-Term Ecological Research symposium

The interactions between human activities and ecosystems are complex, and providing options for our future will require us to make important decisions. Read this informative post on the Ecological Society of America's blog, ECOTONE.

Friday, February 26, 2010

migratory bird and bat research in southeastern Wisconsin

2010 will be the fifth year for MCAMMP, the Milwaukee County Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership. MCAMMP studies migratory bird stopover ecology on stopover sites in Milwaukee County, using banding, transect counts, vegetation sampling and analysis, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). MCAMMP is driven by a research team of ten scientists, and has trained over 150 citizen science volunteers. This year, MCAMMP will begin to add to our research agenda and study other taxa on our 8 study sites. We will gather information on bats, utilizing acoustic monitoring technology as part of the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program. There is an urgent need for more information on distribution, abundance, movements and other aspects of the ecology of bats. The Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program, directed by WDNR bat ecologist Dave Redell, is expanding its research throughout Wisconsin.

If you're interested in volunteering, and/or would like to learn more about our research, come to the annual MCAMMP Workshop at Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center on April 18th, from 1:30 to 4:00 PM. For more information, and to register for the workshop, call Tim Vargo, Manager of Research and Citizen Science, Urban Ecology Center, at 414-964-8505. Or contact any of the research team members - see contact information and more details at the MCAMMP webpage, or contact me at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

some action on carbon-neutral ideas and policies

Think a big city can't become carbon neutral? Well, maybe you'll be surprised by efforts in Chicago - see this link and also this one, for the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Recommended reading...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

continuing decline of Red-headed Woodpecker

Much study has been devoted to the decline of the Red-headed Woodpecker. It continues to decline in some areas of its range in North America, although declines may have leveled off in some other regions. See a 50-year graph of CBC records for this species in the United States as a whole, below.

For more about this species, see the following online resources:

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My website, Wisconsin Birds - Information, Conservation, Ideas, Ecology, and Biogeography - has been updated. See it at this link.

You'll find some of the following resources there:

News and Links
Avian Monitoring
MCAMMP Project
Projects and research
Curriculum Vitae - Wm. P. Mueller
Wisconsin Birds - links to checklists and other information
Resources: Birds and Climate Change

Monday, February 15, 2010

pending AOU checklist changes, Red Crossbill, and other related topics

Get ready for more AOU changes to the checklist this year. Read a little about these proposed changes at:

As many of you already know, Red Crossbill is probably actually a complex of eight species, or at the very least eight "vocal types". The first one to be officially recognized by AOU is likely to be Loxia sinesciurus.

Read more about the current and ongoing work on crossbills at these links:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

BirdCity Wisconsin

A new effort to promote bird-friendly actions by cities, towns, and other local municipalities builds on several years of prior work, and it's an excellent project. The first BirdCity organization in the United States has started up right here in Wisconsin. See the new website of BirdCity Wisconsin at this link. Carl Schwartz is BirdCity's Coordinator, and he and the BirdCity Steering Committee have done a stellar job. Be sure to read the information at the website, and find out how to get your community involved. It's good for communities, good for people, and good for birds.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wisconsin's state natural areas - special places

If you are planning your trips within Wisconsin this year, be sure to visit some of our State Natural Areas - the gems of our state system. These photos are from one of my favorites: Toft Point, in Door County. Toft Point is a large area (686 acres), described as follows: "wooded with a mesic forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, balsam fir, and scattered white pine. To the north, along Moonlight Bay, is an extensive calcareous sedge meadow that grades into shrub-carr and wet-mesic forest dominated by white cedar with occasional paper birch and black ash. Pockets of tamarack swamp and alder thicket are imbedded in the wetland. " To learn more about the State Natural Areas system, go to this link.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

birds and cold weather

If you 're occasionally wondering how birds survive intense cold as well as other weather events, here are some valuable resources:

Romero, L. M., J. M. Reed, and J. C Wingfield. 2000. Effects of weather on cortocosteroid responses in wild free-living passerine birds. General and Comparative Endocrinology 118:113–122. [Online] Available: Accessed 30 January 2010.

See many sections in one of my favorite ornithological reference books: Newton, I. 2008. The migration ecology of birds. Academic Press. New York. (especially sections on cold weather effects on birds).

Calder, W.A., J.R. King 1974. Thermal and caloric relations of birds. In Avian Biology, Vol. 4, D.S. Farner, J.R. King, and K.C. Parkes, Eds. : 259-413. Academic Press. New York.

And, don't forget to include reading any of the papers on this topic done by Wisconsin's own Professor Bill Brooks, who taught for many years at Ripon College. Prof. Brooks worked on cold weather adaptations in redpolls. See especially: Brooks, W. S. 1968. Comparative adaptations of the Alaskan redpolls to the arctic environment. Wilson Bulleton, Vol. 80 (3): 253-280. [Online] Available: Accessed 30 January 2010.

Last but surely not least is the excellent book: Marchand, P. J. 1996. Life in the cold: an introduction to winter ecology. Third edition. University Press of New England. Hanover, NH.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

world bird list online, other online checklists

Dr. John Penhallurick of Australia manages World Bird Info, a database with taxonomy/nomenclature of all of the known world avifauna in English, French, German, and Spanish. It has excellent search capability. See it here. Look for the tabs at the top to use the search function, or see metadata, other links, and more. One can also link there to Peters, Sibley-Monroe, or Gill 2nd Edition Family lists.

For those interested more specifically in North America, see the American Ornithologist's Union Check-List here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

late autumn BCA bird conservation presentations now online

On November 12th of 2009, members of the Bird Conservation Alliance (the policy arm of the American Bird Conservancy) met in Washington D.C.. A number of excellent presentations were given at that meeting, and they can now be accessed online. Each one is a rather large file and would be difficult to access for those still possessing a dial-up e-mail account. The presentations can be found at this link.

Friday, January 1, 2010

come back around to these core truths once again

On this the first day of the new year, I once again recommend this set of publications:
Sustaining Life - How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity
Edited by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein

See more at this link.

The online Executive Summary that matches and summarizes this publication is available here.

Here is a brief section from the introduction:

"E.O.Wilson once said about ants 'we need them to survive, but they don’t need us at all.' The same, in fact, could be said about countless other insects, bacteria, fungi, plankton, plants, and other organisms. This central truth, however, is largely lost to most of us. Rather, we act as if we were totally independent of Nature, as if it were an infinite source of products and services for our use alone, and an infinite sink for our wastes. During the past 50 years, for example, we have squandered one fourth of the world’s topsoil, one fifth of its agricultural land, and one third of its forests, while at the same time needing these resources more than ever, having increased our population from 2.5 billion to over 6.1 billion. We have dumped many millions of tons of toxic chemicals onto soils and into fresh water, the oceans, and the air, while knowing very little about the effects these chemicals have on other species, or, in fact, on ourselves. We have changed the composition of the atmosphere, thinning the ozone layer that filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation, toxic to all living things on land and in surface waters, and increasing the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels not present on Earth for more than 420,000 years."