Handbook for Monitoring Wisconsin’s Migratory Landbirds – Lake Superior

The Handbook for Monitoring Wisconsin’s Migratory Landbirds within the Lake Superior Basin is a resource for Wisconsin Stopover Initiative partners and others who wish to monitor the use of areas in the Lake Superior basin by migrating forest-dependent landbirds. It provides overviews and procedures for techniques recommended by experts for answering the most relevant questions regarding landbird migration, as well as a decision tree to assist partners in identifying monitoring strategies based on their goals and objectives.

This handbook is intended to provide information for many different partners with a variety of objectives and a wide range of experience with bird monitoring, from private landowners who wish to document a list of species using a property as stopover habitat, researchers interested in complex questions about migrants’ use of the landscape or airspace. It provides recommendations for standard procedures so that results can be compared and integrated with other migration monitoring data, and potentially with breeding bird census data to document habitat use during birds’ full life cycles. These protocols may be used not only in the Lake Superior basin, but extended to other areas in the region and throughout the Great Lakes. This is a dynamic document, and as more knowledge is gained and techniques are refined, particularly in the fields of radar ornithology, acoustic monitoring, and geolocation, protocols will be updated.

Migration monitoring and migratory stopover habitat protection have only recently been recognized as vitally important to ensuring the survival of many species of migratory songbirds whose populations are in decline. Very little is known about migratory bird use of the Lake Superior Basin, and this information is necessary because of current and potential impacts of development, resource extraction (including wind energy) and climate change on the area. This handbook provides standard procedures for meeting partners’ monitoring objectives.

The Midwest Landbird Migration Monitoring Network was recently formed to address the challenges of monitoring and protecting habitat for migratory birds. Partners are encouraged to join this network to take advantage of the group’s expertise and resources. Partners are also encouraged to submit their data to the Midwest Avian Data Center.


Natural Resources Foundation of WisconsinDuluth Superior Area Community Foundation