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Bill Mueller retiring from Wisconsin-based observatory

Bill Mueller
Bill Mueller has been the director of Wisconsin’s Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory since 2010. Photo by Anne Moretti

Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, based in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, will retire on October 15, after nearly a decade in the position. Mueller succeeded the observatory’s founder, the late Noel Cutright, one of the Badger State’s leading ornithologists, who died in 2013.

BirdWatching readers know Mueller from his 2014 article about his walk across Wisconsin in support of bird conservation and his profile of the Long-eared Owl, which was our cover story in December 2017.

The observatory works toward the conservation of birds and bats in Wisconsin and throughout the western Great Lakes region. Under Mueller’s leadership, the observatory has sponsored scientific meetings, a hawk watch, annual celebrations of World Migratory Bird Day, and butterfly workshops at its home at the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust’s Forest Beach Migratory Preserve (Hotspot Near You No. 156), and grown into a respected independent nonprofit research, education, and conservation advocacy organization.

Mueller has coordinated the observatory’s Waterbird Watch at Harrington Beach State Park since 2012 and overseen the growth of the Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit, a popular two-day scientific conference held each year in early November.


He has served on the steering committees of both the Midwest Migration Network, founded in 2014, and the second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, where since 2015 he has led statewide training efforts that helped recruit more than 1,900 volunteers for five years of field work.

Mueller also has been the driving force behind the creation of a network of Motus migration monitoring towers in Wisconsin. A Motus station is now up and running at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, and by summer’s end, additional stations will be in place in Manitowoc, Waukesha, and Grant counties and at the Milwaukee Zoo. Two additional stations will be constructed in Columbia and Iowa counties, and many more are in the planning stage.

All of these important and successful projects and others will continue after Mueller’s retirement, said Board Chair and former BirdWatching Editor Chuck Hagner. “Just as Bill so ably fulfilled Noel’s wishes, we will find a new science director who will be able to pick up right where Bill lets off.”

The observatory will start searching for a new science director immediately.


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