Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Another view of The Nature Conservancy’s Mink River, Wisconsin, project that was partially funded by Great Lakes Restoration Initiative dollars. Photo by Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy.

Another view of The Nature Conservancy’s Mink River, Wisconsin, project that was partially funded by Great Lakes Restoration Initiative dollars. Photo courtesy of Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy.

Protecting Stopover Habitat for Migratory Birds in the Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes watershed provides important habitats for migrating birds to rest and refuel as they journey between their breeding and wintering grounds. Marshes and mudflats along Great Lakes shorelines are key for migrating shorebirds, waterfowl and waterbirds, and forested shoreline habitats are critical stopovers for often exhausted songbirds searching for insects to feed on to fatten up for their long journeys, as well as offering refuge from inclement weather.

In recognition of the Great Lakes Region’s importance to migratory birds, the National Audubon Society has designated several large swaths of habitat as Important Bird Areas within the watershed, and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network has also designated two sites as priority stopover areas for shorebird conservation. The region is well known by birders for its’ unique assemblage of species, as birds from various regions of the continent pass through the Great Lakes as they migrate to other destinations.

Unfortunately, many of these habitats that support migrant birds are disappearing due to a variety of pressures, such as shoreline development and Great Lakes water level fluctuations.  Invasive species, including Phragmites and hybrid cattails are also taking over large areas of coastal wetlands, where their thick stands crowd out native vegetation and make habitat unusable for many marsh bird species. Birds also face multiple sources of direct human-caused mortality during migration, such as collisions with glass buildings, communication towers and automobiles.

Recognizing these threats and the need to mitigate them, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – Joint Venture Habitat Protection and Restoration Program (GLRI-JV) has awarded almost $5 million in funds to conservation partners to protect, restore and enhance migratory bird habitats in the Great Lakes watershed. Since the program’s inception in 2010, almost 5,900 acres across five states have been positively impacted as a result of the many GLRI-JV partner efforts, which include protection, restoration and enhancement activities at such key sites as the Lake Erie marshes region in Ohio, the Door County peninsula in Wisconsin, the Saginaw Bay region in Michigan, and other Great Lakes’ coastlines.

To find out more about the GLRI-JV program, visit the following websites:

http://greatlakesrestoration.us/

http://www.uppermissgreatlakesjv.org/

http://acjv.org/

By Barb Jones and Andy Forbes

A Black-throated blue warbler looks in on his young. Photo by USFWS

A Black-throated blue warbler looks in on his young. Photo by USFWS.

 

Last updated: September 8, 2014