The Great Lakes and nearby agricultural midwestern United States together represent a geographical challenge to migratory land birds during flight and stopover. We explored large-scale migratory responses of land birds encountering the Great Lakes as revealed by weather surveillance radars (WSR-88D) and two smaller specialized radars. Those responses reveal comprehensive landscape- or regional-scale migratory patterns that would otherwise have been difficult to infer. Analysis of radar echoes showed birds crossed the Great Lakes in large numbers, although we also found evidence of birds avoiding lake crossing in some locations. Around dawn, birds over water in numerous locations frequently exhibited an increase in migratory height (dawn ascent) and often an accompanying reorientation toward nearest land if they were within ∼28 km of shore. Those behavioral responses to the Great Lakes influence the resulting distribution of birds stopping over in the intervening terrestrial landscapes.
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Vol. 120 • No. 2