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Nathan Rathbun, Dan Nolfi, and Rebecca Horton, members of the Service’s radar team, are tracking bat and bird migrations along Great Lakes shorelines. Photo by Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS.

Nathan Rathbun, Dan Nolfi, and Rebecca Horton, members of the Service’s radar team, are tracking bat and bird migrations along Great Lakes shorelines. Photo by Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS.

First in a Series of Reports on Avian
Radar Studies Along Great Lakes Shorelines

A newly released report from the Service presents information from avian radar studies in two Michigan counties, providing insight into bird and bat migration along Great Lakes shorelines. Information in the report, and from additional reports to be released soon, will help inform decisions about activities, such as placement of wind energy facilities that may affect birds and bats near the shores of the Great Lakes.

The Avian Radar Report for Huron and Oceana counties in Michigan presents results from radar studies in fall of 2011 on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The Service placed radar units on opposite sides of the state, where automated systems tracked and recorded bird and bat movements continuously from mid-August to mid-November 2011.

This project was funded in-part by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an inter-agency effort led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Radar monitoring can help identify the activity patterns, timing, and duration of migration that occurs along shorelines of the Great Lakes. The report noted that global wind patterns help move millions of migrating birds and bats through the Great Lakes region, where shorelines provide important stopover habitat. Shorelines are thought to concentrate migrants, offering a last refuge near large areas of open water, and are likely used for navigation.

Data from this and upcoming reports can help state and county planners involved in regulating and siting facilities to conserve birds and bats, and can also be an important tool for the wind energy industry during siting and planning of new projects.

The report includes information on the starting and ending dates of migration, the importance of the shoreline area to migrants, and ways to examine data to more accurately assess risk to migrants from wind turbines and buildings. In addition, the studies support development of standard methodologies for collection and interpretation of radar data for assessing risk to wildlife from wind energy.

The report is available at: http://www.fws.gov/radar/documents/AvianRadarTechnicalReportFall2011.pdf

The Service expects to release four additional reports in the coming months, providing results of studies on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. Additional information from the project is available at http://www.fws.gov/radar . For more information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s role in the implementation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit http://www.fws.gov/glri/.

By Georgia Parham,
Regional Office - External Affairs

Last updated: June 4, 2015