2016 State of Stopover Symposium


During 5-7 October 2016, the first international migratory bird stopover symposium (2016 State of Stopover Symposium) took place in Milwaukee at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (see general schedule for an overview of the program). The symposium was a collaborative event involving many partners.

The symposium provided participants with an in-depth look at the growing migratory bird Stopover movement in the Great Lakes, with updates on research, management, and education. This proved to be a valuable working symposium that inspired each Great Lakes state and Ontario to work on building alliances to develop, promote, and expand Stopover conservation initiatives. The symposium had two principal objectives: 1) Summarize all that we know about Stopover actions, accomplishments, and challenges in the Great Lakes Basin; and 2) Develop a concerted, long-term strategy to implement Stopover programs across the Great Lakes Basin that will elevate markedly the conservation emphasis of Stopover habitat protection, acquisition, and education in each state and Ontario.  A major outcome from the symposium:  Shawn Graff from ABC has agreed to take the lead in developing a core group of interested parties to advance Stopover initiatives across the Great Lakes.

Dr. Robin KimmererFestivities kicked off on the evening of 4 October with a reception gathering for keynote speaker, Dr. Robin Kimmerer, director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at State University of New York – Syracuse.

The symposium began the morning of 5 October with welcomes from the WDNR and Schlitz Audubon, and was soon followed by an inspirational and motivating keynote by Dr. Robin Kimmerer on finding common ground between Western science and traditional Native American knowledge to address habitat restoration. This was the first of four keynote addresses to kick off the morning and early afternoon; each keynote was videotaped and appears as a chapter here.
The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Dr. David Ewert followed Dr. Kimmerer with a history of the Stopover movement in the Great Lakes region, and Katie Koch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) followed Dr. Ewert’s keynote with a presentation that focused on celebrating the past 100 years of migratory bird conservation (this last keynote is not included in the video).

The afternoon of 5 October and the mid-morning and afternoon of 6 October were devoted to three breakout sessions on Stopover Protection and Management; Research and Monitoring (coordinated by the Midwest Landbird Migration Monitoring Network); and Education, Outreach, and Ecotourism, respectively.  The evening of 5 October was a social mixer within the context of a poster session featuring several migratory bird projects, and stopover habitat research, conservation, and education projects.

The early morning of 6 October featured field activities at Schlitz, including a tour of the grounds, raptor education, bird banding, a bird hike, and an exclusive showing of the documentary on migratory bird flight, titled The Messenger. 

The evening of 6 October featured a banquet at the Four Points Sheraton (just up the road from Schlitz and where many participants were staying), where Sumner presented eleven Centennial Stopover Awards to individuals and organizations from the U.S. and Canada for their exceptional contributions to the conservation of migratory birds.  Those awarded included:  the Chicago Parks Natural Areas Team;  Bird Studies Canada; Erica Dunn (ret.) Canadian Wildlife Service; Jeff Gosse of the FWS; Mark Shieldcastle of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory;  Dr. Anna Peterson from Minnesota;  Jane Anklam of the West Wisconsin Land Trust; Barb Barzen of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin; William Mueller of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory; Dr. David Ewert of The Nature Conservancy;  and Kim Grveles of the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative.

Finally, during the morning of 7 October, a summation of the work accomplished by each of the three breakout sessions was presented (see Breakout Sessions page for more).  Following these presentations. Rebecca Sanders (Great Lakes Audubon), Craig Thompson (WDNR), and Katie Koch (FWS) provided an excellent overview of available funds for stopover work in the Great Lakes.  Dr. Ewert then gave a summary of the symposium, and Kim Grveles, Sumner, and fellow organizer Diane Packett gave a few final remarks. The funding plenary and farewell remarks are available on video here.

All that was left to do was for the participants to enjoy the final symposium field trips: to Forest Beach Migratory Preserve (in Ozaukee County); to the Milwaukee County Parks; and to the Milwaukee Lakeshore State Park. 

As mentioned at the outset, this was the first international stopover symposium, and we are excited about what the future holds for stopover projects throughout the Great Lakes region.