Saturday, July 9, 2011

bird conservation news - inside and outside our borders

See recent news from BirdLife International at this link; and more recent news from the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) at their site, here.

There's more, too, from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, at their site, here - which is a site worth checking now & then. Although this link mentions information linked here previously, it's both worth repaeating as well as worth leading you to the sitre for future reference.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

more info on Neotropic Cormorants

Read a bit of background info, see videos, images, and more about Wisconsin's newest avian addition - at this link, and then, some more at this link.

Monday, June 13, 2011

shorebirds: news, info, & conservation - within & beyond our borders

See this recent news on the World Waders site, for a start.

Then, news from the International Wader Study Group is posted here.

If you're REALLY into shorebirds, become part of the IWSG listserv, by going here.

And, eBird has a page devoted to the International Shorebird Survey - see it here.

Although it is a little dated, this publication from USGS shows info on North American shorebird populations.

(image of knots from National Digital Library - Greg Breese)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Earth Portal

If you have never looked at it, see the Earth Portal - lots of great information.

Friday, June 10, 2011

birds and people

BirdLife international highlights the links between birds and people at a new webpage -see it here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

shrubland bird species

"According to the Breeding Bird Survey data from 1966 to 2003, 50 of 78 shrubland species are declining, and there is no trend information for 29 species." See more at this link. Plus additional information is at this link.

Our recent exchanges about bobwhites have me thinking about this group.

The partial list given at the first linked page above is dominated by western species, but some familiar WI species are on the list as well.

Along with ongoing declines, however, may be some range expansion of some shrubland species resulting from a warming climate in the upper Midwest. This summer I have already heard a few more reports than usual (for June) of White-eyed Vireo (the usual locations in Dane or Green counties, plus a report of a possible pair for the 2nd year in a row near the Ozaukee-Washington county line, and now a possible Milwaukee County bird). I had one along Milwaukee's Menomonee River in September last fall; where was that individual en route from? And this species is fairly regular not far south, in locations about 100 miles from the WI-IL border (I had them reliably near Joliet, IL, in June last year). Will we see (or mostly hear) more in future summers?

But what of the other declining species in this group: how will they fare in Wisconsin in the coming decades?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

more on bobwhites in WI

Months ago I posted on the decline of the bobwhite in Wisconsin. Here's more information from the WDNR quail survey, at this link - see especially the regression graph (Figure 2) on page 2.

Friday, June 3, 2011

early summer woodlands

The early summer woodlands at this latitude are a study in all of the greens - and leaf shapes are highly varied. The canopy has a particular group of avian species that we don't see easily unless we take time and watch very carefully: Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, Yellow-billed Cuckoo. If you're not far from an edge, you'll add Indigo Bunting, Northern Cardinal, and sometimes a few others. And while you're counting, you can simply stand in awe of the colors and patterns overhead.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

migratory bird conservation factsheets, plus Steve B.'s new book

I may have passed this along before, but it's worth repeating - Go over to the website of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to see a variety of excellent fact sheets on migratory bird conservation, at this link.

If you're looking for my review from last week of Steve Betchkal's new birding book, you can find it at this link.

Friday, May 27, 2011

bird conservation news - local and international

If you haven't looked at it lately, don't miss the growing amount of excellent information on the Bird City Wisconsin website. For example, check out the map with the existing municipalities that have attained Bird City status, here. And go to their homepage to begin learning about all of the other activities and initiatives they have in process - if you haven't been following these developments, you will be truly amazed!

Over on the international front, read recent news from BirdLife International at this link.

Monday, May 23, 2011

new birding book - a review

Steve Betchkal, for those of you who may not have met him or read any of his writing, or may not have seen any of his expert videography (he works for a local television station - WQOW - in Eau Claire, WI), is a man with diverse skills and interests. But they all sort of funnel into and are magnified when he starts talking about or writing about or photographing birds. Steve has a wide-ranging sense of humor. All of these things are displayed fully in his new book Make Birds - Not War: Step By Step Instructions for Saving the World a Birder at a Time. (Adarolf Publishing, 2011).

Steve is the author of All of This and Robins Too: A Guide to the 50 or So Best Places to Find Birds in Wisconsin.

But about this new book - this is not your usual birding book. Although descriptions of birding locations, evaluations of favorite places, the merits of the various wheres and hows of birding are found throughout, that's really only part of what's here. There is also poetry, philosophy, wry humor - and much, much more - and all wrapped thoroughly around and within the life and experiences of a birder. Is Steve "obsessed" with birds? Obsessed in a good way (and I hope I am, too). These are fluid, colorful, uplifting, evocative, and sometimes laugh-out-loud stories about birding, birds, birders, travel - and life.

Maybe not for everyone - but maybe for you. HIGHLY recommended. The book will be available after June 8th.

Monday, May 16, 2011

BirdLife International news

Recent news from BirdLife International can be found here. Of special interest is a recent news post on "Land use changes from a bird’s-eye view".

Friday, May 13, 2011

lots of birding news from all over

If you're home as I am instead of at the WSO Annual Convention in Lacrosse, here are a few links. Today I found a birding news website that I had previously overlooked - see it here; maybe it will be new to you also.


And I have not looked at the Birdzilla site in a while, but did so today - see it here.

Read a great field ecology blog

Read the great blog of a superb field biologist, Dr. Josh Kapfer, who is on his way back to Wisconsin, where he has accepted a teaching position at UW-Whitewater - see the blog at this link.

Josh is an expert herpetologist - he did his graduate work on bullsnakes, does radio telemetry with box turtles, and he can tell you a good story of the day he and I found a queen snake (Regina septemvittata). But saying that would seem to somewhat limit his many interests in ecology - and he has many. Check his blog for much more information - and some great stories!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2011 State of the Birds on Public Lands and Waters

"This year’s report provides the nation’s first assessment of the distribution of birds on public lands and helps public agencies identify which species have significant potential for conservation in each habitat." Learn more by downloading the full report at this link.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

bird conservation and related news

News from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is available here.

If you've never looked at it, please check out the website of the The Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership, here.

News from The Conservation Leadership Programme can be found here.

Information regarding the National Conservation Training Center can be found here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

one minute a day for bird conservation

With one minute each day over the coming weeks - you can help make a difference for conservation and birds in Wisconsin. Starting today, an easy new project using your help can improve an area for birds and support an organization that is developing and restoring habitat in southeastern Wisconsin. Edy's (the company that makes fruit bars), has a annual program to provide community orchards around the nation. The Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust is attempting to get enough online votes to win this chance to develop an orchard on the grounds of the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Ozaukee County. Orchards can be great bird-attractors, and serve other purposes for the Land Trust as well. We surely can use help from as many people as possible - it's simple: go to this link, register (see the top row of links, and find the register link, there) the first time, then you can vote once each day - the organization with the most votes will be funded for developing an orchard this year. It takes a couple of minutes to register, but after that less than a minute each day to log in and cast your vote. A community garden group in Middleton won last year's spot in Wisconsin - please vote for the Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust's orchard project this year!

Friday, April 8, 2011

bird news for Friday!

Recent news from BirdLife International can be found here.

There are other stories this week, too: see the latest from the Bird Conservation Network in Illinois!

And for more - once again - regarding some news from outside of our region, see the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology's recent updates, here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

new issue of Ecology and Society

A new issue of the online journal Ecology and Society is available; go to this link - and you'll find Volume 16, Issue 1 | March 2011.

Of considerable interest to me is the paper entitled: Effects of Roads and Traffic on Wildlife Populations and Landscape Function: Road Ecology is Moving toward Larger Scales, by Rodney van der Ree, Jochen A. G. Jaeger, Edgar A. van der Grift, and Anthony P. Clevenger. I did a statewide (in Wisconsin) avian road mortality study while in graduate school- and this continues to merit a great deal of attention.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

updated Bird Conservation Alliance website; other news

Go to this link to see the updated Bird Conservation Alliance website.

The Bird Conservation Alliance (BCA) is a network of organizations working together to conserve wild birds.

Through the Alliance, millions of birdwatchers and concerned citizens are united with conservation professionals, scientists, and educators to benefit bird conservation efforts.

Learn more about the Bird Conservation Alliance - many resources are available at their expanded site.


Recent research links from the Institute for Bird Populations can be found here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

new links

An updated page with many links to recent projects from the USGS Ecosystems - Wildlife: Terrestrial and Endangered Resources Program can be found at this link.

The ABA blog has a great post by Ted Floyd on new changes to the AOU Check-List, due this summer - see the post here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Migration Celebration - Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

Come to the 2nd Annual Migration Celebration this spring, at the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, in Ozaukee County. The date is May 7th. Find out what's been happening at the preserve over the past year, see our new hawk observation platform and photo blinds, take a guided tour, and many more opportunities.

See displays from Bird City Wisconsin, WSO, and other organizations, learn about the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, and hear presentations on stopover ecology. Activities for kids, too!

Call the US Fish & Wildlife Service at 920-866-1717 for more information, or e-mail

For a map to Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, see this link.

bird conservation and research news

A collection of news and links to recent information:

See the latest news from BirdLife International here.

In the United States, check out the most recent news and programs of the American Bird Conservancy at this link.

At the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, see information on recent research here.

A set of links to bird-safe building design is found here.

The updated Wisconsin Important Bird Areas page is linked here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

stunning video from Audubon

My good friend Ethan Duke, Assistant Director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory, sent me this link
to a superb Audubon video - don't miss this one!

And while you're at it, check out the MRBO website, too - look for it here. Thanks, Ethan!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

recent news from BirdLife International

The latest news from BirdLife International can be found here.

Also, see information about BirdLife's new Forests of Hope campaign, at this link.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

raptor identification taken to the next level

Possibly the best-ever raptor identification guide in print, Jerry Liguori's new Hawks At a Distance (Princeton University Press, 2011) is now available. If you are serious about identifying birds of prey, whether at a hawk-watch site, or during your everyday birding, the advances made by the author with this book can assist you in achieving that goal in ways few books have done previously. In the forward to this volume, Pete Dunne (whom some might say is a very accomplished raptor watcher) describes the historical leaps forward in the publication of raptor ID books. That includes the groundbreaking book Pete himself coauthored with Dave Sibley and Clay Sutton, Hawks in Flight - which has been the standard to which I compare other raptor books for twenty-plus years. Pete suggests that Jerry Liguori has made yet another leap forward with this book, and I am inclined to agree completely.

One of Jerry's conceptual advancements is showing highly detailed photos of the birds as they are actually seen in the field. Although there are occasions when we see a raptor at relatively close range, most of the time they are at a distance, and even high-quality binoculars and telescopes still only provide a view that reveals shape and relative features, dark and light patterns - but not the "portrait" view shown in many field guides. Hawks At a Distance does this task in a way books have rarely done in the past: great details, but images matching what we often really see - not just what we wish we saw. The postures adopted by birds of prey when in flight often confuse the intermediate or beginning birder - raptors don't always appear as seen in the single illustration many field guides use to portray them, and individuals can easily look like "some other species".

Jerry's book also displays the other plumages or color morphs seen in some species. Written descriptions accompany the many fine images, drawn from years of raptor photography by Jerry and his wife Sherry, along with those of 14 other expert raptor photographers.

This is an easy book to take in the field - and that's what I'll do with mine. Highly recommended.

Friday, March 11, 2011

ornithological and conservation news

Birds as vectors of heavy metals may contribute to pollution: read a summary of this surprising research result at this link.

A set of reviews of excellent new books can be found at this link.

Read an article on feral cat predation on songbirds at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's website, here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

alternative birding and conservation news

See the latest BirdLife International news at their news page.

Find news on many current birding topics at the ABA blog, authored by a number of experts fro m the American Birding Association. See especially the latest post on a number of new taxonomic proposals from the American Ornithologists' Union.


For some solid background on global issues in bird conservation, see this paper on Habitat conversion and global avian biodiversity loss, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, by K. J. Gaston, T. M. Blackburn and K. K. Goldewijk.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

News from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

News from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center can be found here. See their updated pages on education, research, and other topics.

two great sources of information

Learn about conservation of native plants at the Plant Conservation Alliance website -
and if you've never investigated the Xerces Society (the nonprofit organization "that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat"), check that out as well, at their website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

World Bird Info site

John Penhallurick has been hard at work on filling in the blanks on his World Bird Info site - see it here - lots of information; good reading if you're interested in birds around the world.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

news from the American Bird Conservancy

Recent news from ABC can be found at the following links:

Endangered Bird Hatches on U.S. Soil for First Time in Recorded History

Expansion of Colombian Bird Reserve Aids Eight Globally Threatened Species Plus Hundreds More Birds

Massive Six-State Habitat Restoration Project Sees Progress on 130,000 Acres in Year One

planet under pressure - conference

A conference is being planned for 2012 to address the many challenges of global change.

It will be a major international science conference focusing on solutions to the global sustainability challenge.

The 2012 international Planet Under Pressure conference will provide a comprehensive update of the pressure planet Earth is now under. The conference will discuss solutions at all scales to move societies on to a sustainable pathway. It will provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20.

  • 2500 participants combining global-change science and policy, business and development communities
  • Scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Rio +20 conference
  • Building trans-disciplinary research communities
  • Identifying opportunities for enhanced partnerships between global change science and policy, industry and the public
  • A new vision for international research
Find out more at this link.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rusty Blackbird news

A recent rule change that affects Rusty Blackbirds, and the "backstory" is here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

new Checklist of the Birds of Wisconsin

I've been working on updating the Birds of Wisconsin checklist for the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology website for almost a year - the old one was outdated. Jesse Peterson (WSO's former president and current Membership Chair) has recently helped me with it, and it is now ready. Thanks to Jesse for his assistance with this process. Thanks also for suggestions and additional ideas to Bettie Harriman, Tom Schultz, and Jeff Baughman.

See the new checklist at:

This checklist incorporates the most recent updates in nomenclature and sequence - it follows the most recent changes mandated by the American Ornithologists' Union's North American Classification Committee (NACC) for their Check-List of North American Birds. There are many changes to scientific names, many changes to the sequencing of species within the list, and one
family has been completely eliminated from the WI list. Thraupidae, which used to be the family containing the North American representatives of the tanagers, is gone from our WI list. The 3 species we see in WI (two are rare) are now classified in the Cardinalidae. The Thraupidae still exists, of course, but only those tanager species breeding in the tropics are included in that family now.

The position of the longspurs and Snow Bunting in the list has been moved (now placed in their own family, the Calcariidae), the genus name for the waterthrushes is different, as is the scientific name for Winter Wren (now split from the newly-named Pacific Wren of the west coast and Pacific Northwest), and many other changes will be noticeable as you look through the
list. Note the new common name for Whip-poor-will - it is now Eastern Whip-poor-will. This separates it from the recently-split Mexican Whip-poor-will.

Bill Mueller
Conservation Chair, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology

bird conservation and other news

See recent news at the BirdLife International news page, here.


See recent info from Conservation International on their biodiversity and human health initiatives.


And, if you haven't seen it in a while, see recent information from the World Wildlife Fund at their website. (Did you know, for example, that there are only ~3200 tigers remaining in the wild today?)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

a book about economics and truth

If I could suggest one book that I think all citizens should read this year, it would not be a book about ecology. This is a fact that even I find surprising; but after reading the first lengthy essay in this amazing book, it's the truth contained herein that is so powerful and provocative. This book is a series of essays on economics, entitled What Matters? - Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, by Wendell Berry, (with a forward by Herman Daly), published by Counterpoint Press. If you already know the work of Wendell Berry, the clear-eyed wisdom found here probably won't surprise you after all. And if you've never read anything by Wendell Berry, this is as good a place to begin as any.

Here are two reviews from somewhat different perspectives:
this one, from the Englewood Review of Books, or this one.

I heartily recommend it: Economics for people who never studied economics, and for those who did.

Monday, January 24, 2011

another fine new field guide

Perhaps we shouldn't really call this book a "field guide" - in fact, the publishers (Princeton University Press) call Birds of the West Indies, by Norman Arlott, an "illustrated checklist". It's smaller than most field guides by half - only 240 pages. But that small size packs a lot of information, on 550 species from the West Indies region. Each matching text page with its facing page of gorgeous plates displays from six to ten species. You'll find that the West Indies are rich in nightjar species, hummingbirds, and cuckoos. Some species are very familiar to the North American birder, because of course there are many of "our" breeding species that winter in the West Indies, and they are all illustrated and described here, in addition to the many endemics found in this region. The last 70 pages are all maps, somewhat simplified, showing the range of the species highlighted on the overall map of the region. I always like guides with maps arranged nearer the plates and descriptions, but it's rather easy to see why this method of organization was chosen, due to the small size of the book and the limitations that creates. A fine book for any birder traveling to the islands - and I wish I was headed there right now. I'd be taking this book with me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

more on Bobwhites

Early in the week we had a little flurry of posts on Bobwhites, and I had a fair number of backchannel queries about this species.

The image here is the BBS trend graph for the entire central BBS region.

Here's a quote from the Birds of North America species account for the bobwhite:
"On continental scale, this species is declining significantly in most states in U.S. Texas is a notable exception, where populations show stable trends over broad areas, especially in southern part of the state, but not in eastern or panhandle regions. During 1965–1995, regional, statewide, and local declines of 70 to 90% were common and widespread in 80% of states with Northern Bobwhite. Numerous extinctions of local populations were prevalent throughout geographic range in South and Midwest."

This is from the following source:
Brennan, Leonard A. 1999. Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

using some solid references about WI birds

When learning about bird distribution, abundance, ecology, status, management, conservation, and where to find birds in Wisconsin, there are a few recommended and very solid sources of information that can be easily found online in some cases, or in public libraries or bookstores in other cases. If you are a beginning or intermediate birder, you may not have found your way to these items yet - but if you really want to learn more about birds in this state, these can be very helpful:

Robbins, S. 1991. Wisconsin Birdlife: Population & Distribution - Past & Present. University of Wisconsin Press. (This might be referred to as "the" book on Wisconsin birds, by the dean of Wisconsin ornithologists, the late Rev. Samuel D. Robbins, Jr.)

Cutright, N. J., B. R. Harriman, and R. W. Howe. Eds. 2006. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Inc. (Our state atlas, the product of thousands of hours of mapping the breeding distribution of birds in WI, with species accounts for all of our breeding species.)

Find the online parts of the atlas info at:

I was shocked recently to learn that some active birders do not know about the atlas, or the atlas website. That's really the reason for this post.

Find the All-Bird Conservation Plan of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative online at:
See the species accounts at:

See the website of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology at:

For birdfinding, nothing can match the Fifth Edition of Wisconsin's Favorite Bird Haunts, edited by Daryl D. Tessen, published in 2009 by WSO. At 540 pages, it contains detailed information about the best places to find birds in Wisconsin - it's really a comprehensive resource.

A very useful reference and one of the all-time bargains in ornithology, the little blue pamphlet called Wisconsin Birds: A Checklist with Migration Graphs, Sixth Edition, by Stanley A. Temple, Robert C. Domagalski, and John R. Cary, published in 2003 by WSO, is one of a short list of indispensible references - and you won't believe how inexpensive it is (see ).

I'll stop there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

good news for wetland birds in Iraq

See some great news at the BirdLife International news page, here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

mountaintop removal coal mining and bird conservation

Mountaintop removal coal mining is a practice that much evidence suggests is damaging to ecosystems, destroys bird and wildlife habitat and negatively impacts human communities. Learn more about it at this website.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

American Bird Conservancy News

News from the American Bird Conservancy is available at this link.

latest BirdLife International news

See the latest news from BirdLife International at this link.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

my vote for best field guide of 2010

Since many new field guides are published each year, it's not easy for one to rise above the pack. But this book - Birds of the Middle East, Second Edition - by Richard Porter and Simon Aspinall (Princeton University Press) is the obvious choice for "first place" for me.

The reasons? The artwork is spectacularly good. Images of many plumages are included. The authors have expanded their coverage of species by 1oo over those found in the first edition - there are now more than 800. There are more species accounts and more than 820 maps. Maps are on the facing page, which is still not true for all field guides. The book is still really "field guide-size" - making it easier to actually use in the field.

For those heading to the Middle East, this book should make birding easier for you. And I pick it up every few days just to look at some of the plates, (owls, for example...and large falcons...and the many Middle Eastern wheatear species!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

widespread decline in North American bumble bees

Worrisome news about bumblebee declines:

"the relative abundances of four species have declined by up to 96% and that their surveyed geographic ranges have contracted by 23–87%"

Friday, January 7, 2011

bird conservation reminder for the new year

Go to this link at the Saving Our Shared Birds website for a timely reminder. Please get involved in any way you can in 2011.

bison and Yellowstone

Each year, America's wild bison face hazing and slaughter as they leave the safety of Yellowstone National Park -- one of the last havens they have left.

I hope you will join me to stop this out-dated and terrible policy.

Please take action at this link.