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Monitoring Migration Along the Great Lakes

Tracking Bird and Bat Migration Along the Great Lakes Shorelines to Guide Wind Energy Development and Reduce the Risk to Migrants


Every spring and fall, millions of birds and bats migrate through the Great Lakes region as they travel between their wintering and breeding grounds. The Great Lakes are a barrier for many species and concentrate the migrants along the shorelines. By studying when, where, how high, and under what conditions birds and bats migrate, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can advise wind energy developers about areas that if wind turbines were built there would present high risks to migrants.


With funding provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses multiple methods such as avian radar, acoustic and ultrasonic monitoring, and visual bird surveys, to gain a broader picture of what is occurring on the landscape. The data from this project along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Voluntary Land Based Wind Energy Guidelines will help to meet the need for development and the need for conservation.


Wind energy is a key part of our country's approach to energy independence and commitment to renewable energy production. The wind energy industry is rapidly expanding, and while it has many advantages over other sources of energy, if not sited and operated with thoughtful planning, the rotating turbines kill many birds and bats and construction of the facilities can destroy habitat. Wildlife agencies have recognized the need to evaluate and address the potential impacts of wind energy projects on wildlife. Only by working together can we, collectively, ensure that development of renewable wind energy does not replace one set of environmental problems with another.

Fall 2011 Report Cover


The Avian Radar Project has published its report for the study of the shorelines of Huron and Oceana counties, MI during fall 2011. This report details the migrant activity in the area and examines ways to look at that activity and determine the risk to migrants from radar data. Click to download the full report or just the executive summary.


The Technical Report for Lake Ontario in spring 2013 has also been published! Click to download the full report or just the executive summary. Additionally, the full report and executive summary for Lake Erie in spring 2012 are available.


Interested in Lake Superior instead? Our seasonal report for Fall 2014 on Lake Superior is now available! Or check out the executive summary instead.


The seasonal report for Fall 2012 on Green Bay and Saginaw Bay has been published. Low resolution version and just the executive summary are available.


We've been busy! The seasonal report for Fall 2016 on Lake Ontario is now available! Low resolution version is available as well.


Our project has been expanding our view, to cover more broad scale topics. A first published paper in a scientific journal has come out, comparing the use of shoreline and inland areas by migrants at different points of the day and night. Check it out over at Movement Ecology!


The full radar dataset for the Avian Radar Project is now available for download! Check it out on our Reports, Facts, Accomplishments, and Data page!



Last updated: May 3, 2019