Lake Erie Birding Report Illuminates Environmental Studies

The following is an excerpt from H.T. Bartlett’s comprehensive 2016 report on avian research on Lake Erie.

Birding Bass Islands     In the early 2000’s, the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society began sponsoring Elderhostel programs on South Bass Island. One dealt with fishing and the other with natural history/wine making of the islands. The popularity of evening natural history programs and optional morning bird walks soon led to a birding Elderhostel. In 2003, I was asked by Lisa Brohl, one of the leaders of the Elderhostel, to present a one-day program on bird banding and give a demonstration. The demonstration was conducted on a 20 acre property owned by Mark and Barb Barnhill on the eastern most part of the island. The program was a success and I was asked back each year after.

     Kelleys Island bird bandingIn the summer of 2006, I retired from teaching. Lisa called and asked if I would work the week-long Elderhostel. I agreed and banding increased. The Elderhostel has since changed its name to Road Scholar, opening up to a wider group of people and is now run by the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center on South Bass Island. Over the years the program has increased to six weeks during spring and fall. Lisa is also the chair of the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy. With the data we gathered, she and her organization have secured funds to buy and protect land on the Bass Islands.

bird in hand     In 2009, we started a banding project on Middle Bass Island. In 2010, one of my sub-permittees, Dr. James Marshall working at Stone Lab, began expanding our efforts with a summer banding project on North Bass Island. The North Bass Island summer study involves birds and the remaining vineyards on the island. Over 12 natural areas have been protected on the Lake Erie Islands. We now have bird banding data for South Bass, Middle Bass, and North Bass Islands, plus my long-term data set (21 years) from Kelleys Island. Banding data has been used to purchase and protect properties on South Bass, Middle Bass, and Kelleys Islands. The Put-in-Bay Township Park District as owners, make use of the banding data to help manage the properties for migratory and nesting birds as well as other wildlife.

   Kelleys Island bird banding  The Barnhills, Put-in-Bay Park District, Lake Erie Islands Conservancy, and the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center have supplied access and funding to assist in our banding projects this year. As always, we are thankful for the support from Mark and Barb Barnhill for the use of their property on South Bass Island and assistance in our studies. It is hoped that the banding projects can be increased in years to come. This past year 413 individuals visited our research stations.

For the complete report, please click on the PDF link below!

2016 Birding Report by H.T. Bartlett