Bioacoustic Monitoring of Nocturnal Songbird Migration in a Southern Great Lakes Ecosystem
Many species of birds produce short vocalizations during nocturnal migration. My thesis uses bioacoustic monitoring of these night flight calls to study bird migration through a southern Great Lakes ecosystem. I deployed recording devices around western Lake Erie during spring and fall migrations. Analysis of thousands of hours of recordings revealed that night flight calls accurately predicted both the magnitude of migration, as well as the timing of migrant passage, as assessed by banding. The first arrival dates for 48 species of migratory birds were significantly earlier on Pelee Island than on mainland Ontario in the spring. More flight calls were detected over Pelee Island than over mainland comparison sites. These results suggest that many birds cross Lake Erie in spring and fall, and that islands are important for migratory birds. This research provides insight into the use of acoustics for monitoring birds in active migration.