The breeding bird communities of the western Great Lakes region have among the richest diversity of
breeding bird species in North America (Green 1995, Howe et al. 1997, Rich et al. 2004). The importance
of this diversity and past concerns with potential declines of some species has led to a strong interest in
monitoring forest bird populations in the region. The relatively heavily forested landscapes of northern
Minnesota and Wisconsin are considered to be population 'sources' for many forest bird species and may be
supplementing population 'sinks' in the agricultural landscapes of the lower Midwest (Robinson et al. 1995,
Temple and Flaspohler 1998). Analysis of population trends is used as an 'early-warning system' of
potential problems in a species population and serves as a measure of the ecological condition of the
environment (Niemi and McDonald 2004a).
2013 Annual Report – Forest Bird Monitoring 2
Recently, a draft of a general technical report on a summary of the twenty-plus year data that have been
gathered in the Chequamegon, Chippewa, Nicolet, and Superior NFs from the late 1980s through 2011 has
been completed (Niemi et al. 2013). This report has gone through several iterations of peer-review and is
currently in press. It summarizes a substantial amount of information that has been gathered on population
trends, habitat relationships, bird community assemblages, factors potentially affecting population trends,
management recommendations for bird species of concern, and a brief review of potential invasive species
affecting bird species.
Large-scale population monitoring programs such as the U.S. Geological Survey’s Breeding Bird Survey
(BBS) provide important information on trends at a continental scale. However, limited coverage in some
areas can make it difficult to use BBS data to characterize population trends at smaller geographic scales
(Peterjohn et al. 1995). Continental trends also have the potential to mask regional population trends
(Holmes and Sherry 1988), thus there is a need for regional monitoring programs that can provide more
localized information (Howe et al. 1997). In response to the need for regional population data, a long-term
forest breeding bird monitoring program was established in 1991 in the Chippewa and Superior NFs. The
Forest Service is mandated to monitor certain management indicator species (Manley et al. 1993), and our
monitoring program expands beyond indicator species to include all forest songbird species that we can
adequately sample. Although recent changes to the USFS Planning Rule are in the process of being
implemented (USDA Forest Service 2012), we are confident that this program is an effective way of
monitoring the characteristics and conditions of an important component of the ecological communities
present in these NFs. Currently, more than 300 stands (> 900 points) within the two NFs are surveyed
during the breeding season (June 1 to July 10).
The primary objective of this report is to update U.S. Forest Service personnel on results of the forest bird
monitoring program. Here we focus on relative abundance trends of individual species during the period
from 1995-2013 (19 years) and summarize the most important recent results.
Zlonis, Edmund J; Grinde, Alexis R; Bednar, Joshua D; Niemi, Gerald J.
Summary of Breeding Bird Trends in the Chippewa and Superior National Forests of Minnesota: 1995-2013.
University of Minnesota Duluth.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
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