MMN Participates in Connectivity Challenge: Birds Connect Us

Screen capture from Connectivity Challenge pitch

In 2020, the Midwest Migration Network was part of a collaborative grant proposal for the Connectivity Challenge, created to fund meaningful change in the field of conservation by the Salazar Center for North American Conservation in partnership with Colorado State University’s  inaugural Conservation Impact Prize.

The Audubon Great Lakes engagement team, with support from several MMN Steering Committee members, led the proposal titled “Birds Connect Us: Empowering Communities through Migratory Bird Technology.” Our team was one of five finalists in the running for the Connectivity Challenge. We are honored to have been selected to participate in a live virtual pitch event hosted by the Salazar Center on September 16. You can view a recording of that pitch, delivered by Audubon Great Lakes’ Jeremiah Steen, in the embedded video below or by clicking here.

Our vision for this project is to bring together community members in Detroit and Milwaukee, two major urban centers and migratory bird hotspots along the Great Lakes, and connect them to exciting migratory science research happening where they live. Audubon Great Lakes’ Wild Indigo Nature Explorations Program already works extensively with communities of color in these two cities, with emphases on program co-development and meeting communities where they are. Our goal was to enhance Wild Indigo’s work by incorporating Motus wildlife tracking technology into curricula and providing STEM education, career-building activities, and mentorship opportunities for community members. This important work aims to connect community members to research and researchers. By engaging community members more deeply in the process of understanding how migratory birds use the landscapes in their neighborhoods, we seek to foster the importance of preserving local green spaces for migratory birds and people. Our hope is for this project to serve as a model for future projects connecting communities to Motus technology across the continent and beyond.

Although we were not selected as the winner, we will continue to seek funding opportunities to support program development and Motus tower installation in communities where the Wild Indigo team is working. We will also continue taking steps toward some of the initiatives set forth in our proposal, such as further integrating community engagement with MMN initiatives.


If you would like to learn how you can help in making Motus come to life through community engagement programs in the Great Lakes region or beyond, please contact Stephanie Beilke, Audubon Great Lakes Conservation Science Manager:

To learn more about MMN’s Telemetry initiative, which focuses on Motus Wildlife Tracking, click here.

Thanks for making our first virtual conference a success!

We did it! We want to thank over a dozen speakers and over 300 participants for making our first ever Midwest Migration Network Virtual Conference “Connecting Birds and People in the Midwest” a great success! Event highlights included two excellent keynote presentations from Pete Marra and Fabiola Rodríguez, research updates from all the MMN initiatives, as well as some spectacular visualizations of bird migration from the Radar & Acoustics initiative.

In case you missed the conference, you can still view recordings from all of the sessions on our YouTube channel. Individual sessions are also linked below:

If you want to stay up to date on the latest MMN news and happenings, don’t forget to become a member by joining here.

MMN Virtual Conference: Connecting Birds & People in the Midwest, July 21-23, 2020

The Midwest Migration Network (MMN) invites you to join our first ever virtual public conference “Connecting Birds & People in the Midwest” on July 21-23, 2020, featuring special keynote speakers Pete Marra, Director of the Georgetown Environment Initiative, and Fabiola Rodríguez, Ph.D. candidate at Tulane and research collaborator with the Mesoamerican Development Institute.

Join us to:

  • Discover the latest findings in the world of migration science and conservation from leading experts from across our region and beyond.
  • Be inspired by advances in innovative technology used to track migratory birds, from radar to telemetry.
  • Join researchers and conservationists working at the forefront of bird migration science and learn how this information is informing conservation actions.

Over the course of this three-day conference, our program will feature two keynote sessions that will provide a broad overview of MMN’s work and how we connect with research from throughout the western hemisphere. Four working sessions will delve into MMN’s initiatives seeking to address regional questions by implementing the latest technologies with collaborative approaches: Banding and Ground Surveys, Great Lakes Wind-Wildlife Coalition, Radar and Acoustics, and Telemetry.

This event is free for all attendees, though we welcome donations of $10 or more to support our mission to advance collaborative bird migration research and conservation.

To learn more and for a full meeting schedule, please review the Conference Program.

Register now through Zoom:

New MMN Initiative: The Great Lakes Wind-Wildlife Coalition

Flickr Creative Commons

The Midwest Migration Network is excited to announce the addition of a fourth initiative! The Great Lakes Wind-Wildlife Coalition was organized with the intent of minimizing impacts to birds and bats by nearshore and offshore wind energy development in the Great Lakes. The group seeks to accomplish this by proactively informing and providing guidance for wind facility planning based on best available science.

Currently, a single five-turbine wind energy facility is in operation in U.S. marine waters off the coast of Rhode Island. Following this precedent-setting project, many more offshore facilities are in various stages of planning along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in Hawaii. The Great Lakes, on the other hand, remain a frontier region for offshore wind energy development. The Great Lakes and their shorelines are used by a vast number of birds, creating a clear need to ensure that best practices and current science are used to guide offshore wind development.

The Coalition has identified two primary objectives. To form the scientific baseline of this work, the group will gather and synthesize current offshore bird and bat movement data, which will also provide an opportunity to identify data needed to fully inform facility planning. Concurrently, best management practices for facility development will be synthesized, and a guidance document prepared for use by developers and resource management agencies. 

We are very excited about this new initiative and look forward to broad participation within our network of members!

Growing the Motus Network in Southern & Eastern WI

Written by William Mueller
FBMP Motus Tower
Forest Beach Migratory Preserve Motus Station

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, Inc. has been working on bringing an extension of the Motus Wildlife Tracking Network to southern and eastern Wisconsin. Our goal is to build a network of towers east-to-west across southern Wisconsin, and north-to-south along the Lake Michigan shoreline, from the Green Bay area southward. To make this happen, WGLBBO has been busy hosting regional meetings, attending workshops, raising funds, and working with a variety of partner organizations and individuals.

We are pleased to announce that as of summer 2019, three stations have already launched thanks to this effort, with more to come! The Motus towers in southern and eastern Wisconsin will be vital for tracking bird migration across Lake Michigan and the state of Wisconsin.

The image below shows the antenna coverage of the first three stations we have established in our southern Wisconsin Motus subnetwork. This image is a screenshot from the Motus Receiver Locations webpage, with imagery by Google.

Map of Motus Towers in WI
From southwest to north, the newest Motus towers are located at:

Thanks to Davor Grgic for a lot of help in setting up these stations!

Next to come are stations at:
  • Madison Audubon Society’s Goose Pond Sanctuary, in Columbia County
  • Milwaukee County Zoo, in Milwaukee County
  • Eagle Valley Nature Preserve, in Grant County
  • A yet-to-be-determined location, near the lower Wisconsin River, in Iowa or Sauk County


Contact Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory for more information or if you're interesting in hosting a Motus tower in Wisconsin!

Fall 2019 Migration Bird Banding Workshops

The Network’s next bird banding workshops have been scheduled for fall of 2019 and will occur at the following locations: 
  • USFWS Regional Office (classroom session) and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (field session) in Bloomington, Minnesota on September 6-8, 2019.
  • Tyson Research Center, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri on October 4-6, 2019.

An additional workshop in 2019 is being considered for the Lake Superior region.

All workshops will be led by Mark Shieldcastle of Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

Registration is free! Thank you to the USFWS Region 3 Migratory Bird Office for funding this workshop.

Why should you participate in a coordinated banding program during the migratory periods?

  1. Make your banding data more useful to scientists. Data collected in a consistent manner across regions allows scientists to ask big picture questions such as looking at annual changes in adult recruitment into populations of declining species.
  2. Work together with other banding stations and scientists to address important large-scale bird research and conservation issues.
  3. Receive technical support to address your local research questions.
  4. Help agencies and organizations make better conservation decisions based on new science-based information.

Already operating a migration banding station? 

  • You don’t need to stop doing anything you’ve done in the past. All we ask is that you add just a few new things to your routine.
  • Start your involvement in the Midwest Migration Network by participating in this or a future training workshop to learn what your station can do to participate.

What will the free workshop cover?

  • Classroom and outdoor sessions.
  • Learn new and updated methods and protocols.
  • Learn how to register your banding station.
  • Learn what to do with the data you collect. Band data will continue to go to the Bird Bandling Lab. Other data collected will be submitted to the Midwest Avian Data Center starting later this year.

To register, send an email to Mark Shieldcastle (), and copy Bill Mueller ().

More information, including registration forms, protocol, and agenda, will be sent to all inquiring.