Important Bird Areas

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


Located in Lake Superior off the Bayfield Peninsula, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore includes 21 of the 22 islands in the Apostles archipelago as well as a 12-mile segment of mainland shoreline. The islands are composed of eroded Precambrian sandstone and display a variety of formations and sandscapes, including sea caves, sandspits, and dunes. Habitats are mostly forested and combine elements of hemlock-white pine-northern hardwood forest and boreal forest. Forests are largely mature second growth with some areas of old growth. Bogs, streams, alder thickets, and pine savanna also are present.

Ornithological Summary

The Apostle Islands are an outstanding concentration area for migrating birds, especially in the fall, hosting tens of thousands of passerines and raptors, particularly falcons. The islands also contain important nesting habitat for colonial waterbirds (Herring Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants) and Bald Eagles, and host a variety of breeding songbirds, particularly species of coniferous and mixed forests. High conservation priority species breeding here include Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Veery, Nashville Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Ovenbird, and Canada Warbler.

Conservation Issues

As a part of the U.S. National Park System, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has a comprehensive general management plan (currently being revised) that directs the overall management of the park, as well as a fire management plan and a harvestable wildlife plan (draft). In addition, 80% of the National Lakeshore is a designated wilderness area, which adds a layer of protection and management to those areas within the wilderness boundary. Given all of this, conservation and protection of the birds and their habitat is relatively secure. Annual Bald Eagle nest monitoring, breeding bird surveys, and bi-annual surveys of migratory birds provide data that are used by resource managers to inform management decisions on the islands. Additionally, Park Service staff work with the neighboring Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwa, The Nature Conservancy, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others to monitor the federally endangered Piping Plovers that currently nest on Long Island. Together, this group is developing long-term protection, monitoring, and management strategies so that the plovers may continue to successfully reproduce there.