Important Bird Areas

Cleveland Lakeshore Migration Corridor


The Cleveland Lakeshore Migration Corridor lies offshore from Fischer Creek Conservation Area and adjacent areas of southeastern Manitowoc County and northeastern Sheboygan County. The area covers Lake Michigan open waters from just south of the Sheboygan-Manitowoc County line north approximately six miles, and extends one-half mile from the shoreline out into the Lake. Including the beach, the total area covers 4,000 acres. Vegetation cover types include beach, shoals, and the open waters of Lake Michigan.

Ornithological Summary

Significant concentrations of diving ducks utilize the offshore waters of Lake Michigan in the Cleveland area from October into early January, and again in April. Mixed-species flocks totaling upward of 40,000 birds are found in some years, with especially high proportions of Long-tailed Duck (numbers as high as 30,000 individuals in fall of 2004). Greater Scaup numbers total 20,000 birds or more in both spring and fall. Smaller numbers of all three scoter species, Horned Grebe, and Red-throated Loon also are seen during both migratory periods, and Western Grebe is an occasional visitor during fall migration. This site comprises critical habitat for this assemblage of diving waterfowl and waterbirds. The shoreline also is used as a migratory pathway by a diverse group of diurnal raptor species, especially during fall migration.

Conservation Issues

This IBA includes the Fischer Creek Conservation Area, which is owned by the state of Wisconsin and managed by Manitowoc County as part of its parks system. It also includes two natural areas managed by UW-Green Bay, Point Creek Natural Area and Kingfisher Farm. These areas are managed for natural communities and low-impact recreation. Lakeshore development and water quality issues are potential threats to the long-term viability of this site, as are the effects of extensive concentrations of the exotic zebra mussel, which many diving duck species utilize as food during migratory stopover periods and which concentrate toxins in their tissues which may harm the birds over the long term (Custer and Custer 1996; Hamilton et al. 1994).