With the assistance of many dedicated volunteers, the Observatory monitors shorebirds during spring and fall migration in the Ohio and Michigan Lake Erie marshes. Species timing, habitat utilization, and habitat parameters are documented to assist in improved management of diked wetlands for this group of birds. Sixty to 150,000 birds have been counted in the area in a single year. The Lake Erie marshes are the most important stopover sites between Cheyenne Bottoms in Kansas and Delaware Bay on the east coast. Seven years of shorebird data were submitted in the spring of 2000 to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) for nomination of theLake Erie Marshes as a Shorebird Reserve Site.
At the September meeting of the WHSRN Council, the Lake Erie Marshes were awarded Regional Shorebird Status. Regional statusprovides the area wetlands with great recognition. There is only one other regional shorebird site in the Midwest and that is Chatauqua NWR, Illinois. This designation exemplifies the value of these wetlands for supplying shorebirds with necessary habitat and food for their long distance migration. Future land acquisition and restoration grants will be boosted in value because of this Regional Shorebird status. It is the hope of the Observatory that land managers involved will strive to maintain this designation and make a more concerted effort to assist these birds on migration. The Observatory is confident with more years of data that the status can be raised to International Shorebird Status for this region. To reach International status more than 100,000 birds must be documented in the area. If the area were to attain International Status, it would be a first for the Midwest.