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Nicolet National Forest

Nicolet National Forest 2014 bird survey volunteer group

Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey

Located within the Headwaters Wilderness Important Bird Area, the Nicolet National Forest (NNF) encompasses 360,000 hectares of extensive mixed hardwood-conifer forests, lowland swamps, glacial lakes, and wetlands in northeastern Wisconsin. It comprises the eastern portion of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest with headquarters in Rhinelander and Park Falls, Wisconsin.

Between 1987 and 2016, the NNF Bird Survey took place annually during the second weekend in June with volunteers from across Wisconsin who helped conduct breeding bird surveys. Everyone with an interest in birds and a desire for adventure was invited to participate. Thanks to >680 dedicated volunteers, in 30 years the NNF Bird Survey has recorded at least 173 bird species and compiled >70,000 records of birds at 522 points, most of which were sampled every other year since 1987 or 1988. Results have contributed to many scientific publications, including master's theses, doctoral dissertations, book chapters, and other scholarly reports and articles, and help guide forest management policies.

Northern Parula, a small wood warbler

History of the Survey

The NNF Bird Survey began in 1987 in response to the lack of quantitative information about breeding birds in northern Wisconsin. Following publication of the 1986 Land and Resource Management Plan for the NNF, members of the Conservation Committee of the Northeastern Wisconsin (NEW) Audubon Society discussed the need to provide a better foundation for assessing the impacts of forest management on bird populations. NEW Audubon, UW-Green Bay, and U.S. Forest Service developed a partnership to implement a bird monitoring program in northern Wisconsin. A proposal was submitted to U.S. Forest Service Biologist Tony Rinaldi, who worked with NEW Audubon members to organize the first NNF Bird Survey at the Boulder Lake Campground.