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Identifying Important Stopover Locations for Migrating Birds

This is a NEXRAD image of birds during migration. As birds take off for a nightly flight, the radar quantifies the number of "bird targets" intercepted by the radar beam.  This allows researchers to map geographic areas where birds concentrate during migration, which can aid in conservation planning.


January 1999 - January 2003


During migration, landbirds often concentrate near geographical barriers and along river valleys. However, the relative importance of various areas and habitat types to migratory landbirds remains unknown. Identifying migration stopover concentration areas is the fist step toward integrating migration habitat priorities into avian conservation plans. A new remote sensing technology, NEXRAD WSR88-D radar, allows us to identify stopover concentration areas and rank the relative importance of various areas.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Bonter, D. N., T. M. Donovan, and E. W. Brooks. 2007. Daily changes in energetic condition in landbirds during migration stopover on the south shore of Lake Ontario. Auk 124:122-133 Abstract |  Download  | 
  • Bonter, D. N., T. M. Donovan, E. Brooks. 2008. What are we missing with ground-level mist nets? Using elevated nets at a migration stopover site. Journal of Field Ornithology 79:314-320. Abstract |  Download  |  Publisher Website | 
  • Bonter, D. N., S. A. Gauthreaux, Jr., and T. M. Donovan. 2009. Characteristics of important stopover locations for migrating birds: Remote sensing with radar in the Great Lakes Basin. Conservation Biology 23:440-448. Abstract |  Download  | 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 240

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1936

Presentations: 4260



Funding Agencies

  • The Nature Conservancy
  • U.S. Geological Survey


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey