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It’s long been known that the Great Lakes basin, especially coastal areas, support large populations of migrating birds during both the spring and fall. Millions of waterfowl, shorebirds, water birds, and raptors utilize the region’s diverse habitats on their journeys, including open waters, agricultural fields, mudflats, shrublands, marshes, coastal wetlands, grasslands, and forests. These migration rest stops, also known as “stopover sites”, provide shelter and nourishment to hundreds of different bird species, helping to ensure the success of these migrations, which contribute to the region’s biodiversity, and boost economies and recreational opportunities via hunting and bird watching.
For all these birds, coastal areas are vital. For example, many raptor species, such as broad-winged hawks and red-tailed hawks, typically concentrate along narrow corridors that follow the shoreline. Other birds, many of which migrate on broader routes, also congregate in large numbers near the coast due to the relatively abundant food sources, including aquatic insects. Yet, while we know Great Lakes coasts are important, quantifying and identifying priority habitats used during migration, so that we can better protect them, is a major challenge.
Given the ecological, economic, and cultural importance of Great Lakes migratory birds, combined with potential negative impacts of land use change, including wind energy and other commercial development, it is essential that we work to address this challenge.

Wind Energy: Great Lakes Regional Guidelines by D. Ewert, J. Cole, and E. Grman

Islands of Life: A Biodiversity and Conservation Atlas of the Great Lakes Islands by B.L. Henson, D.T. Kraus, M.J. McMurty, and D.N. Ewert