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Bird Surveys

In an effort to better document bird usage in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern (LGBFR AOC), the UW-Green Bay project team conducted a series of bird surveys in 2015-16 where there were information gaps on birds based on habitat. They coordinated and conducted bird surveys in small and inland (or disconnected) open wetlands that are dominated by herbaceous plants, and that were not surveyed by the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program (CWMP), which only samples coastal wetlands that are at least 4 ha in size and connected and influenced by a Great Lake.

Yellowheaded Blackbird

Wetland birds were sampled using the same, widely accepted protocol used for the CWMP, namely a 15-minute, unlimited-distance point count, in which trained observers recorded all birds seen or heard regardless of how far away an individual was calling from the observer. During the first 5 minutes of the 15-minute count, an observer passively listened and recorded all species and individuals; during the middle 5 minutes, a broadcast of secretive marsh bird calls was played to elicit vocalizations of target species; and finally during the last 5 minutes, an observer passively listened to all birds vocalizing. Point count locations were visited twice in the summer (May-July 2015-16), once in the early morning and once in the evening, in order to detect different bird species based on when they are most active. Visits were separated by at least 15 days.

In addition to wetland bird surveys, the UW-Green Bay project team coordinated and conducted bird surveys in a variety of non-open wetland habitats in the LGBFR AOC, particularly along the Fox River and west shore, in habitats including forested wetlands, upland forests, isolated forests in suburban areas, early successional forests, old fields, restored oak savanna, shrub-dominated habitats, and riparian habitats. No systematic surveys had been conducted on birds in habitats such as these, so the data collected from these counts helped to supplement information on birds of the LGBFR AOC. Trained UW-Green Bay students surveyed for birds in the summer of 2015 at 23 locations. 


Birds were sampled following the methods outlined in Knutson et al. (2008), a widely accepted, western Great Lakes region-wide protocol. Trained observers conducted 10-minute, unlimited-distance point counts by recording all birds seen or heard regardless of how far away an individual was calling from the observer. All species, number of individuals, and the minute and distance an individual was first detected were recorded on the point count form. Each point count location was visited one time in late June or early July 2015.

The wetland bird 15-minute point count data from 2015 and 2016 are available for download (read “About” tab in file first) as well as the non-open wetland 10-minute point data from 2015. Detailed methods of both survey types are described here.

If you plan to use these data, please contact Erin Giese (, Robert Howe (, and Amy Wolf ( to track data usage, properly cite their work, and ask questions if needed.