Birds without Borders - Aves sin Fronteras ®



Birds Without Borders - Aves sin Fronteras

"The Birds Without Borders - Aves Sin Fronteras® Recommendations for Landowners: How to Manage Your Land to Help Birds (Wisconsin, Midwest and eastern United States edition)" is now available. Click here for more information.

"The Birds Without Borders - Aves Sin Fronteras® Recommendations for Landowners: How to Manage Your Land to Help Birds (Belize and Mesoamerica edition)" is now available. Click here for more information.

Birds Without Borders - Aves Sin Fronteras® was a multi-year research, conservation and education project coordinated by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) in cooperation with the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, Inc. (FWC), and private landowners. The project began in 1996 to study migratory and resident bird species in Wisconsin, USA, and Belize, Central America. This project wrapped up its major missions in March 2009.

Wisconsin and Belize share 114 species of migratory birds, 80 of which are common in both places. These birds are members of a group called Neotropical migrants, birds that spend their non-breeding season (September through April) south of the Tropic of Cancer. Research has documented that some Neotropical migrant birds have been decreasing since 1978. This decline is most likely due to dramatic changes in habitat on both their breeding and wintering grounds. The decline of birds is of concern since birds play a major role in controlling insects in our ecosystem. Also, many people appreciate birds for their beauty and their songs.


Birds Without Borders-Aves Sin Fronteras® was unusual because all research was conducted on privately owned lands in Wisconsin and Belize. More than 50 private landowners generously allowed us to use their land for this important research. These privately owned lands served as models of habitat management for birds. Based on our research findings, we compiled manuals for interested landowners on land-management techniques that benefit birds. Although the project has been completed, the information in the manual continues to be relevant.

Click here to learn more about recommendations for landowners on how to manage your land to help birds (Wisconsin, Midwest and eastern United States edition).

Click here to learn more about recommendations for landowners on how to manage your land to help birds (Belize and Mesoamerica edition).

Birds Without Borders - Aves Sin Fronteras demonstrated the impact that one landowner or group of individual landowners working together can have on conservation.


Conducting researchWe conducted research on both migratory and resident birds for six months in each year of the study both in Wisconsin and Belize. Wisconsin research included the study of birds during spring and fall migration and the breeding season. In Belize, Belizean staff studied migratory birds on their wintering grounds. During the breeding season, research focused on some of Belize's 370 species of resident birds.

We successfully completed five years of Wisconsin research in October 2001; and five years of Belize research was successfully completed in September 2002. Because there was still so much to learn in Belize, we continued bird banding and censusing at the Runaway Creek Nature Preserve and the Chaa Creek study sites through 2004.


Wisconsin map Our Wisconsin study sites - located near Land O' Lakes in the far north, Rosendale in east-central Wisconsin and Pewaukee in southeastern Wisconsin - encompassed 2,000 acres of land. These sites provided the chance to study bird use of a variety of habitats including northern coniferous bog forests, re-vegetating forest clear-cuts, grasslands, wetlands and small suburban deciduous forests.

Belize map Our Belize study sites were located at the Tropical Education Center of the Belize Zoo and at Chaa Creek Nature Preserve and adjacent privately owned lands. We studied birds in habitats represented throughout Belize, including pine savanna (broken ridge), broadleaf deciduous forests, riverine and karst hill forests, citrus and cashew plantations, and pasture.


Group instructionEducational outreach programs including lectures and bird-banding demonstrations were presented to the communities near the study sites. A multi-disciplinary science-education program, coordinated by the Zoological Society's Education Department, began in Wisconsin in 1998 and kicked off in Belize in 2000. This educational component reached more than 3,300 middle and high-school students and 46 teachers in Wisconsin and Belize.


Our collaborations assured that our findings became part of larger databases and provided an ongoing exchange of information, methodology and strategy. We established collaborations with the following groups (BWB-ASF research data had been submitted to the programs marked with an asterisk.):


  • Environment Canada – Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program*
  • Institute for Bird Populations – Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship Program*
  • Lake Pewaukee Sanitary District
  • Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit – Breeding Biology Research and Monitoring Database*
  • Partners in Flight – U.S. and Mesoamerican Groups
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Field Station
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – Soil Conservation Service
  • U.S. Farm Service Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Division of Bird Habitat Conservation
  • U.S. Geological Survey – Bird Banding Laboratory*
  • Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas*
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources*
  • Wisconsin Society for Ornithology


  • Belize Association of Private Protected Areas
  • Belize Audubon Society
  • Belize Biodiversity Initiative*
  • Belize Botanical Gardens
  • Belize Central Statistics Office – Environmental Statistics Unit*
  • Belize Friends for Conservation and Development
  • Belize Institute of Archeology
  • Biodiversity and Environmental Resource Data System of Belize*
  • Cheers Restaurant (Anita and Christie Tupper)
  • Carol Farneti-Foster and Richard Foster, Wildlife Photographers
  • Government of Belize Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority
  • Government of Belize Ministry of Natural Resources, the Environment and Industry – the Forestry Department and Conservation Division
  • Green Hills Farm (Jan Meerman and Tineke Boemsa)
  • Institute for Bird Populations – Monitoring Overwintering Survival Program*
  • Manomet Bird Observatory
  • Mesoamerican Biological Corridor
  • Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation
  • Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Programme for Belize
  • Protected Areas Conservation Trust
  • Sibun Watershed Association*
  • Society for the Promotion of Eco-cultural Tourism and the Environment
  • The Nature Conservancy – Latin American Division
  • Toledo Institute for Development and Environment
  • United Nations Development Program/Global Environmental Facility – Small Grants Programme (Philip Balderamos, National Coordinator – Belize)