Partners in flight bird conservation plan for the Upper Great Lakes Plain (Physiographic Area 16)

, , , and



1 November 2001. Conservation of bird habitats is a major focus of effort by Partners in Flight, an international coalition of agencies, citizens, and other groups dedicated to 'keeping common birds common'. USGS worked on a planning team to publish a bird conservation plan for the Upper Great Lakes Plain ecoregion (PIF 16), which includes large portions of southern Wisconsin, southern Michigan and parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The conservation plan outlines specific habitat restoration and bird population objectives for the ecoregion over the next decade. The plan provides a context for on-the-ground conservation implementation by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the US Forest Service, states, and conservation groups. Citation: Knutson, M. G., G. Butcher, J. Fitzgerald, and J. Shieldcastle. 2001. Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plan for The Upper Great Lakes Plain (Physiographic Area 16). USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in cooperation with Partners in Flight, La Crosse, Wisconsin. Download from website: The Upper Great Lakes Plain covers the southern half of Michigan, northwest Ohio, northern Indiana, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and small portions of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. Glacial moraines and dissected plateaus are characteristic of the topography. Broadleaf forests, oak savannahs, and a variety of prairie communities are the natural vegetation types. A oDriftless Areao was not glaciated during the late Pleistocene and emerged as a unique area of great biological diversity. Priority bird species for the area include the Henslow's Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Bobolink, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, and Red-headed Woodpecker. There are many large urban centers in this area whose growth and sprawl will continue to consume land. The vast majority of the presettlement forest and oak savannah grasslands already have been converted to agriculture. The conversion to cropland may have benefitted some grassland birds, and forest birds still persist. Rates of cowbird parasitism and nest predation in this heavily fragmented region, however, are extremely high and it is possible that only those bird communities in the few remaining expanses of contiguous habitat are self-sustaining. Forest habitat needs to be retained or restored so that a significant number of patches of sufficient size and quality each support a healthy population of Cerulean Warblers. It is assumed that each of these patches will then support the full range of forest birds. The total area of savannah habitat also should be increased, although the need for large blocks is not as apparent. Those few areas of grassland that still exist should be retained.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Other Report
Partners in flight bird conservation plan for the Upper Great Lakes Plain (Physiographic Area 16)
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
La Crosse, WI
Contributing office(s):
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center