Data show that since 1970, the U.S. and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion birds, a massive reduction in abundance involving hundreds of species, from beloved backyard songbirds to long-distance migrants.
Today our colleagues published a study in the journal Science revealing that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent, or almost 3 billion birds, signaling a widespread ecological crisis. The results show tremendous losses across diverse groups of birds and habitats — from iconic songsters such as meadowlarks to long-distance migrants such as swallows and backyard birds including sparrows. The study notes that birds are indicators of environmental health, signaling that natural systems across the U.S. and Canada are now being so severely impacted by human activities that they no longer support the same robust wildlife populations.
The authors emphasize that “The story is not over. There are so many ways to help save birds!” Their study documents promising rebounds resulting from galvanized human efforts including the recovery of waterfowl over the past 50 years and the spectacular comebacks that raptors, such as the Bald Eagle, have also made since the 1970s. Birds are telling us we must act now to ensure our planet can sustain wildlife and people and there are things we can all do to help make a bird-friendly planet.
To learn more about this paper see the complete press release at eBird Northwest.
Klamath Bird Observatory’s Wings and Wine Gala is back by popular demand. Come celebrate more than 20 years of KBO advancing bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Please help us continue our work by participating in this fundraiser.
In celebration of World Migratory Bird Day, join us as part of a global conservation community that appreciates the wonder of our feathered friends and works together to protect birds.
Our Gala will feature live music and dancing, heavy hors d’oeuvres, local wine and beer, live auction, an art gallery, a field trip, and an opportunity to convene with our KBO community. A good time will be had by all.
NEWS RELEASE: March 23, 2019 CONTACT: John Alexander, Executive Director, Klamath Bird Observatory, 541‐890‐7067, jda@KlamathBird.org
Managers charged with stewarding public and private lands strive to protect, maintain, and restore healthy forest conditions that are resilient to drought, flood, and severe wildfire. Managers often rely on the presence of indicator species and species richness (i.e., the number of species present) to assess the value of different forest conditions to wildlife; however, relying on an indicator species or estimates of richness does not directly measure in what way focal habitats support the life history needs of individual species. For example, a bird provisioning food to nestlings is a more meaningful metric than a bird of the same species simply dispersing through a focal habitat. Unfortunately, classical measures of richness often treat these two hypothetical birds as similar when assessing the value of forests to wildlife. While past conservation planning has largely focused on wildlife presence, new research suggests assessing habitat value throughout the entire avian life cycle will provide a more holistic approach to management.
Recognizing the need for a better assessment of forest value to wildlife, a team of researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory, the Forest Service, and Michigan Technological University developed the “informed indices” concept. This new and impactful method scales diversity estimates by meaningful phases of each species lifecycle, such as breeding and feather replacement (i.e., molt). For proof-of-concept, the collaborative team used 18 years of bird capture data from across multiple forest types in California and Oregon to determine how measures of diversity change for bird communities across the breeding and molting seasons.
“We were surprised to find that forests with diverse breeding bird communities sometimes hosted relatively depauperate molting communities, demonstrating that a single location’s value is dynamic, changing from high to low depending on what part of the avian lifecycle a manager is considering” said Dr. Jared Wolfe, Klamath Bird Observatory Research Associate and lead author of the study.
“Instead of relying on simple measures of presence and absence, our informed indices concept assesses wildlife across biologically-meaningful seasons. This is an important improvement because it identifies essential variation in the value of forest to wildlife, thereby allowing managers to properly conserve wildlife throughout North America and beyond” said Dr. John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory Executive Director and co-author of the study.
About Klamath Bird Observatory: Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We work in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.KlamathBird.org.
Ashland, OR – A new study on songbirds in the Pacific Northwest, released on March 11th, empirically tests the use of focal species as indicators of ecosystem health.
Focal species are often monitored to understand overall ecosystem health and thereby inform and improve natural resource management. However, few studies have empirically tested how well this approach works. The new study, Established and empirically derived landbird focal species lists correlate with vegetation and avian metrics, published by scientists at Klamath Bird Observatory and the Klamath Inventory and Monitoring Network of the National Park Service, tested the focal species approach against site-specific empirical data and found that a suite of bird focal species represented other birds and vegetation in some, but not all instances, and the application of focal species may be improved with more site-specific data.
In the Pacific Northwest, Partners in Flight (PIF) – a broad partnership aimed at conserving bird populations – has been using birds as focal species for nearly 20 years. The premise of the focal species approach is that a suite of songbird species that are closely tied to key habitat features will represent many other bird species and other elements of biodiversity. The study, published in the scientific journal Ecological Applications (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PUBLICATION), used data from six national parks in southern Oregon and northern California to evaluate the focal species approach in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, the study examined whether PIF focal species represented three broader ecosystem components of biodiversity: vegetation, other songbirds, and more specifically, songbirds in decline. The researchers then tested whether they could develop a focal species list from existing park-specific bird surveys that would do a better job at representing the broader suite of species and vegetation.
“If focal species do a good job at representing others aspects of biodiversity, then we can confidently apply them to decisions about managing natural areas. In this time of unprecedented human altered environments, ensuring that the best available science informs decision-making in an efficient manner is crucial,” explains Jaime Stephens, KBO’s Science Director and lead author of this paper. Jaime suggests that this study identifies not only how this approach can be useful to land managers, but importantly, also the limitations of the focal species approach.
The research team found that PIF focal species represented the broader suite of species and vegetation in some, but not all, instances. For example, Partners in Flight focal species did a good job of representing other songbirds at four of the six national parks included in the study. For all parks combined, the new focal species developed from the park-specific bird surveys were slightly better at representing other songbirds, with more improvement in some parks than others.
In contrast to the close association of focal species with the group of all songbirds combined, the PIF focal species represented songbirds in decline at only two of the parks. John Alexander, KBO Executive Director and a co-author of the study, highlights that “It is likely that the species in decline experience different threats than the focal species.” Alexander goes on to explain that these underrepresented declining species may face threats when they leave the parks during the migration – the focal species are chosen to help understand conditions in each park where the songbirds breed.
“I’ve worked through many uses of indicator and focal species approaches as a way for us to “see” and perhaps improve how a system works, and this is among the best approaches I know,” says PIF National Coordinator Bob Ford. He adds, “This approach provides a blueprint for how multi indicator species can be applied to advance conservation in other North American biomes.” He believes this is an important part of the PIF toolbox, adding value to the full lifecycle approaches that PIF applies to addressing conservation needs for priority and declining species.
This study, funded by the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program, takes advantage of the first decade of long-term bird monitoring in the six national parks of the Klamath Network. This monitoring program was designed to answer pressing questions for park managers and local conservation practitioners over the short-term, while monitoring long-term trends in bird populations over the long term. “Our long time partners at KBO provide valuable expertise that allows us to extend the value of our datasets and answer important questions that support natural resource stewardship in Klamath Network parks and beyond,” says Alice Chung-MacCoubrey, the NPS Klamath Network Inventory and Monitoring Program Manager. Continued long-term monitoring in the parks is critical to understanding local bird population dynamics in comparison to trends for the same species at regional and national scales.
About Klamath Bird Observatory: Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We achieve bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.KlamathBird.org.
About Klamath Inventory and Monitoring Network of the National Park Service: The Klamath Network tracks the ecological health of six national park units in southern Oregon and northern California. We inventory park natural resources and then regularly monitor the condition of a carefully selected subset, called “vital signs,” at Crater Lake NP, Lava Beds NM, Whiskeytown NRA, Lassen Volcanic NP, Redwood National and State Parks, and Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Our small staff of scientists partners with park scientists and other organizations to monitor nine vital signs: cave environments and communities, rocky intertidal zone communities, landbird communities, land cover and use within and surrounding parks, lake water quality and aquatic communities, stream water quality and aquatic communities, vegetation communities, invasive plants, and whitebark pine trees. Learn more about the Klamath Network and browse the published results of our science at https://www.nps.gov/im/klmn/index.htm.
Riparian (or streamside) habitats are critical for water quality and wildlife. These habitats filter pollutants from runoff, stabilize soils, provide shade to cool water temperatures, and much more. They are also known for their biodiversity, supporting the most diverse bird communities of any habitat type in arid and semi-arid regions such as ours. This is even more pronounced in urban landscapes.
Some of our most at-risk bird species require riparian habitats for breeding. Many species also need healthy riparian habitats during the fall and winter seasons, when they complete important activities like refueling during migration, replacing worn feathers (molting), or building reserves for the next breeding season.
Most of our western riparian habitats have been lost or degraded due to human impacts. However, restoration efforts are helping to return these areas back to more functioning natural conditions. For nearly two decades Klamath Bird Observatory, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and Ashland School District have partnered on a riparian restoration project at the Willow Wind Community Learning Center along Bear Creek in Ashland, Oregon.
Lomakatsi works to improve riparian habitat in our region by planting a wide diversity of native vegetation, removing invasive plants, and supporting the natural regeneration of native plant communities. As part of the project at Willow Wind, over 3,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted by Lomakatsi’s restoration workers, school groups, and community volunteers. This work has increased the size and health of riparian areas that cool and clean our water, while also providing important bird habitat.
KBO has studied birds as indicators of habitat quality at Willow Wind over the past 18 years to monitor the effectiveness of this streamside habitat restoration. The abundance of several bird species that use riparian habitats during the winter has increased over time in areas where Lomakatsi implemented restoration efforts. The abundance of these same species changed less in areas where no restoration occurred. Before restoration actions took place, the fall bird community at Willow Wind was substantially different than that of nearby mature riparian habitat. In the restored areas, the fall bird community is now becoming more similar to the bird communities in mature riparian habitat along Bear Creek, as a result of the regrowth of native plants. Restoration actions are improving riparian habitat quality in areas where it had previously been degraded.
CLICK HERE to see the full brochure describing results of this project, or to download a printable pdf version.
Interested in birdwatching in some of Ashland’s riparian habitats? Try Lithia Park, Ashland Ponds, Emigrant Lake, or North Mountain Park. CLICK HERE to learn about these and other biding hot spots in and around Ashland.
October 11, Thursday 6:30-8:00pm at Ashland Outdoor Store
Presented by Shannon Rio, President of the Board of Klamath Bird Observatory
The stunning photography and dramatic history of the Birding the Klamath Basin’s National Wildlife Refuges presentation will take us to some of the most amazing wildlife refuges—all within the Klamath Basin right here in our southern Oregon and northern California backyard. One of these, the Lower Klamath, was the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge, established by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1908 specifically for protection of migratory birds. The Klamath Basin refuges are recognized far and wide for sweeping vistas and spectacular birding.
This presentation is an invitation to visit the Refuges with public access and will include information on how to find them and what glory you might expect to see there. We will also discuss the Federal Duck Stamp’s role in protecting lands for wildlife and encourage the purchase of these stamps that support the Refuge. KBO Executive Director John Alexander will speak briefly on conservation, our wildlife refuges, and how we as individuals can make a difference on their behalf.
Contact: John Alexander, Executive Director, Klamath Bird Observatory, 541-890-7067, jda@KlamathBird.org
In 2018 World Migratory Bird Day celebrates Year of the Bird and the actions you can take to help birds; Design and Illustration by Paula Andrea Romero
2018 is the Year of the Bird. To celebrate Ashland-based Klamath Bird Observatory’s Community Education Program is fostering a deeper love for birds and a better understanding of bird conservation and its importance. KBO’s Community Education Program is part of the World Migratory Bird Day education campaign. This year World Migratory Bird Day celebrates 2018 as the Year of the Bird. As such, KBO Education Programs are focusing on the actions we all can take to help birds, 365 days of the year. Every day is World Migratory Bird Day at KBO.
KBO’s board president Shannon Rio has a passion for teaching about birds. Rio explains, “I have always loved birds, and the more I learn about them the more I understand that there is an urgent need to protect birds and their habitats.” Under Shannon’s leadership, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Community Education Program strives to teach people about birds. Shannon believes that the more we know about what we love the more we will be able protect what we love — birds.
Conservation birders visit the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on a multi-day KBO Community Education field trip. Photo by Kirk Gooding
Rio has created KBO’s Talks and Walks. Talks and Walks offers a series of classroom lectures and follow-up field trips that teach community members about birds, science, and bird conservation. Talks and Walks focus on a variety of subjects including bird identification, photography, citizen science, and conservation success stories. One of the program’s recent themes focuses on the value of the United States Wildlife Refuge System. Over 100 years ago, the Refuge System was created to protect habitats that are critical to the survival of migratory birds during their entire annual cycles (that is, breeding, migration, and over-wintering periods). Many KBO Walks and Talks highlight the nearby Klamath Wildlife Refuge Complex, one of our country’s oldest and most important set of migratory bird refuges.
The 2018 Conservation Stamp Set includes the Federal Duck Stamp and KBO’s Conservation Science Stamp. Illustrations by Bob Hautman and Nathan Trimble
One way everyone can help is to support the protection of migratory bird habitat and the science the drives bird conservation. KBO offers a unique Conservation Stamp Set that directly benefits bird habitats and conservation science. The two-stamp set includes: The Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (the Duck Stamp) and KBO’s Conservation Science Stamp. The Federal Duck Stamp is among the most successful conservation tools ever created. Duck Stamp sales contribute directly to habitat conservation on our National Wildlife Refuges. KBO’s Conservation Science Stamp builds on this success by bringing additional support and attention to their regional science-driven conservation efforts. By purchasing this set of conservation stamps, together, birders and hunters send a powerful message — “We believe conservation of non-game birds, gamebirds, and endangered species is a priority for our society.”
To learn more about and participate in Klamath Bird Observatory’s Community Education Program, or to purchase a Conservation Stamp Set, visit www.KlamathBird.org. Also, on October 7th, KBO is holding their Wings and Wine Gala at Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland, Oregon. Please join the KBO Community for this World Migratory Bird Day event and raise your voice for science-driven bird conservation.
Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.KlamathBird.org.
About World Migratory Bird Day:
Word Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), formerly known as International Migratory Bird Day, is an educational campaign that is celebrating its 25th year in 2018. WMBD celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas – bird migration. WMBD is coordinated by Environment for the Americas, a non-profit organization that strives to connect people to bird conservation. As a part of WMBD as many as 700 events and programs are hosted annually to introduce the public to migratory birds and ways to conserve them. Through WMBD the conservation community combines our voices into a global chorus to boost the urgent need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. In 2018 World Migratory Bird Day celebrates Year of the Bird and the actions you can take to help birds, 365 days of the year. For more information about WMBD visit www.migratorybirdday.org.
About Year of the Bird:
In 2018, we mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, more than 100 organizations and nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the “Year of the Bird” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years. Year of the Bird is 12 months of storytelling, science, and conservation aimed at heightening public awareness of birds and the importance of protecting these critical species. Each month of Year of the Bird has a call to action — a simple but meaningful way individuals can help birds. By harnessing the collective passion and expertise of bird lovers around the world, we can champion causes for birds and inspire more people to work towards proven solutions. For more information about Year of the Bird visit www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/year-of-the-bird.
Klamath Bird Observatory’s Wings and Wine Gala is back by popular demand. Come celebrate more than 20 years of KBO advancing bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Please help us continue our work by participating in this fundraiser.
As a World Migratory Bird Day event our Gala will celebrate The Year of the Bird. Join us as part of a global conservation community that appreciates the wonder of our feathered friends and works together to protect birds.
Our Gala will feature field trips, heavy hors d’oeuvres, local wine and beer, silent and live auctions, an art gallery, live music and dancing, and an opportunity to convene with our KBO community. A good time will be had by all.
Contact: Sarah Rockwell, Research Biologist, Klamath Bird Observatory, 541-201-0866, smr@KlamathBird.org
Birds Teach Scientists How to Improve Streamside Restoration
Ashland, OR—Restoring river health in the western United States is important for addressing drought and water quality issues in support of restoring endangered salmon populations, but it is often challenging to understand how best to restore wildlife habitat along stream banks. A new study by a team of researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO), in partnership with the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP), sheds light on how best to understand the success of river restoration efforts: follow the birds.
Researchers studied a series of sites along the Trinity River in northern California for four years to figure out how best to restore vegetation along streambanks following river restoration. Creating new side channels and lowering the floodplain next to streams is good for fish spawning and rearing, but creating more salmon habitat sometimes requires a bulldozer. Removing lush, dense bank vegetation in the process may seem like bad news for birds, but the TRRP replants portions of the riverside with native trees and shrubs, and the birds come back. Still, it is important to monitor the newly created floodplains to ensure they are providing good habitat for wildlife – just in case this human assistance isn’t working the way we expect it to. The research team found that there are ways to plan river restoration and replant vegetation that encourage the birds to return, which can help improve restoration projects in the future.
The Yellow-breasted Chat, one of the focal bird species used in the study, prefers areas with dense shrubs (Photo Credit James Livaudais).
To learn how birds respond to restoration, scientists studied four key bird species that are common in riverside habitats (Black-headed Grosbeak, Song Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Yellow Warbler) at a set of sites that have undergone restoration by the TRRP and a set of sites that were left as remnant mature forest. Birds are good indicators of healthy, functioning ecosystems, in part because they have a diverse range of habitat needs and respond quickly to changes in their environment. The authors compared vegetation on the recently restored sites to the remnant mature forest, and monitored which vegetation features were preferentially used by birds. Birds in the study overall chose to use areas with features of mature forest that were less abundant on new floodplains in the early stages of revegetation (planted just 3-10 years ago). Birds used the newly restored sites too, particularly the remnant patches of undisturbed habitat on those sites. Looking at where birds choose to raise their young reveals why: birds generally placed their territories and/or nests in areas with more canopy cover, taller trees, greater tree species diversity, and multiple layers of vegetation at different heights – all habitat features that may take decades to develop on restored areas. Knowing that these habitat features are important helps land managers recreate the best quality habitat for terrestrial wildlife and informs restoration planning. For example, future projects may benefit birds by leaving patches of mature vegetation within or near restoration sites whenever possible.
One result was unexpected. “We were really interested in the fact that Yellow-breasted Chats and Yellow Warblers frequently placed their territories or nests in areas with more Himalayan blackberry,” says Dr. Sarah Rockwell, KBO Research Biologist and lead author of the study. “Himalayan blackberry is a non-native, invasive shrub that land managers spend a lot of time and money removing – an important restoration practice – but the removal may have unintended consequences for birds.” She suggests that replanting with similarly structured native shrubs may be important in order to provide good nesting habitat for these birds following restoration.
About Klamath Bird Observatory:
Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We achieve bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of birds native to our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Emphasizing high-caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.KlamathBird.org.
About Trinity River Restoration Program:
Created by a Record of Decision from Congress in 2000, the TRRP is an inter-agency partnership (including National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, California Natural Resources Agency, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe, and Trinity County) with funding from Bureau of Reclamation appropriations, Central Valley Project Improvement Act funds, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds. Its creation was motivated by drastic declines in salmonid fish populations observed in the Trinity River since the installation of two dams in the early 1960s, which slowed and stabilized the river flow, causing changes in the shape of the river channel and hydrology that were detrimental to salmonids. The TRRP is tasked with returning salmon fisheries to pre-dam levels by restoring the river’s physical processes – through techniques such as watershed restoration, managed flows, channel rehabilitation including construction of floodplain habitat scaled to restoration flow levels, gravel augmentation, and addition of large woody debris. These efforts are managed by the Trinity Management Council Partners, and advised by the Trinity Adaptive Management Working Group and a Science Advisory Board. Visit TRRP at www.trrp.net.
The cover article of Monday October 30, 2017 edition of the Medford Mail Tribune shines a spotlight on the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network’s recent $100,185 grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.
The article by the Mail Tribune’s Mark Freeman highlights both the plight of disappearing oak woodlands and the successes of restoration efforts. Klamath Bird Observatory Science Director Jaime Stephens explains the crucial need for oak woodland restoration and how KBO is using bird count data to measure restoration effectiveness.
The Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network is a partnership that includes KBO, The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Lomakasti Restoration Project.