National Park Service

Great Lakes Network (GLKN)

Landbird Monitoring

Scarlet tanager at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Scarlet tanager at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

GLKN Landbird Monitoring Briefs

GLKN Night-calling bird survey for Grand Portage National Monument, 2008

GLKN Landbird Monitoring Reports

GLKN Landbird Monitoring Protocol Narrative, and GLKN Standard Operating Procedures

For more information contact: Ted Gostomski


As part of a migratory flyway, a stopover site, or a regular breeding area, the Great Lakes Network parks provide important habitats for more than 200 species of migrant and resident landbirds. Changes in the populations of these birds over time can give us some insight into the effects of habitat change, but because the park landscapes do not change very drastically, increases or declines in songbirds may point more toward changes on the migratory pathways or on the wintering grounds (which is in Central and South America for some birds). One thing we can see from these data are the impacts of some management actions within the parks, the changes to habitats outside the park boundaries, or how a changing global climate may cause northern bird species to move further north and southern species to take up residence in their place.

Long-term Monitoring

This program is designed to survey and monitor singing landbird populations (primarily passerines, or perching birds). Waterfowl (ducks, geese, loons), owls, and secretive marsh birds (rails, bitterns) are not adequately sampled by these methods, so even though some may be recorded during survey counts, those observations are typically not included in data analyses. All nine parks have a landbird monitoring program, though some parks have been conducting these surveys for many years (see box at right). Point counts are conducted by an observer standing at a fixed point and recording all birds seen or heard within a maximum 10-minute period. Birds are recorded to species, and distance from the point is recorded in one of three categories. The number of survey points varies between parks. Over time, we can use this information to determine what important habitat features the parks provide and how the park populations compare to each other and to overall regional trends.

Network Park Units Monitored

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster