This summer KBO is implementing its third season of aquatic bird surveys as part of the OregonCoordinated Aquatic Bird Monitoring Program. As part of this coordinated monitoring effort, KBO is focusing on seven species of marsh-nesting, colonial aquatic birds, including the Eared Grebe—Podiceps nigricollis. The Eared Grebe is the most abundant grebe species in North America, with an estimated population of 3.7 million. In its breeding plumage the Eared Grebe is black with chestnut flanks, bright white underparts and a scarlet iris. Its most distinguishable feature is a fanshaped, reddish-orange tuft that extends from the eyes to the back of the head. Eared Grebes typically winter in saltwater estuaries along the Pacific Coast and breed in freshwater habitats. In Oregon the majority of breeding areas are in Klamath, Lake and Harney counties, while breeding occurs in California in the east-central and northeastern portion of the state. Eared Grebes nest in large colonies, sometimes numbering in the thousands, in shallow water one to four feet deep. KBO survey crews have found Eared Grebes at more than 40 sites in southcentral Oregon. The status of Eared Grebes is of interest in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion in part because the region’s many lakes are subject to year to-year water level fluctuations which can impact Eared Grebe’s nesting habitat. Understanding water level impacts on Eared Grebes on their breeding habitats will be key to maintaining their abundance. Note: The Oregon Coordinated Aquatic Bird Monitoring Program is part of a large, multi-partner effort to determine the status of aquatic birds through the Western United States and to better inform waterbird management and conservation decisions. Source: Marshall, David B., Matthew G. Hunter and Alan L. Contreras, eds. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003. This article can be found in KBO’s Summer 2010 Newsletter.
This article can be found in KBO’s Spring 2010 newsletter.
One of the first warblers to arrive in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California each spring is the Black-throated Gray Warbler. Starting in late March, you may see this elegant migrant, returning from its wintering grounds in Mexico. This striking species summers in a variety of habitats in the western United States and as far north as southwest British Columbia. Spanning thousands of miles and multiple cultures in its travels, this species is truly a “bird for all” in North America. This warbler is distinguished from its close relatives, Townsend’s and Hermit warblers, by its gray and white plumage, lack of yellow plumage except for a spot of yellow in front of the eye, and bold white wings bars. Identifying this bird by its’ song can be a challenge. Listen for a series of sharp, buzzy notes usually followed by a descending slurred note. This species is usually an active insect feeder of the mid-canopy. In our region, it can be found in a variety of habitats, from the canyon live-oak woodlands and chaparral habitat of the Klamath Mountains to the mixed-oak/conifer transition zone of the western Cascade foothills. The Black-throated Gray Warbler is often one of the last migrant warblers to leave its breeding grounds in the fall, so look for it in the region well into October. References: Birds of Oregon. Corvallis: Oregon State University Books, 2003. A Field Guide to Birds of North America (Peterson Field Guide Series). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997. This article appears in KBO’s Fall 2009 Newsletter.
This article appears in KBO’s summer 2009 newsletter, click here to view the full newsletter.
First you hear the high-pitched hum of his two inch wings, flapping 52 to 62 times per second. Then he zips past, a streak of bronze and green, tzzew zupity tzupity tzuping at another bird in aggressive defense of his territory. During the breeding season, this male Rufous Hummingbird will perform elaborate J-shaped diving displays to attract females.Often times indistinguishable from Allen’s Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbirds tend to have more rufous-colored backs, though up to five percent of them are mostly green. Females have greener backs than males with rufous at the base of their tails. This “extremist” hummingbird migrates the farther north than any other hummingbirds in its family. Its journey is, relative to its body length, the longest known avian migration in the world! They spend the winters as far south as southern Mexico and breed throughout the Pacific Northwest, into Alaska. Spring migration seems to be timed to follow the blooming of flowers, leading them through California in March and April, north to their breeding grounds by mid-spring. Considered a valuable indicator species, the Rufous Hummingbird is viewed as a gauge of environmental health by researchers. Highly associated with western shrublands, they are also found in coniferous forests and riparian areas. Recent studies have shown a positive association with young broadleaf forests. Population trends for these birds are of high concern, with nearly a four percent reduction per year for the past 42 years. According to Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan, the Rufous Hummingbird is of particular concern due tovulnerability from a limited non-breeding distribution as well as a limited breeding distribution. The continental objective calls for an emphasis to increase this population by 100%. Along with Partners in Flight, the Western Hummingbird Project addresses hummingbird conservation issues in North America through habitat restoration and enhancement, monitoring, research, and education and outreach. KBO contributes to this project through collaboration with the US Forest Service Wings Across the Americas Program, the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, and many partners. References: Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan, 2004, by Terrill Rich et al.; The Birds of North America, first edition 2005, edited by Dr. Alan Poole and Dr. Frank Gill. This article appears in KBO’s Spring 2009 newsletter.
This article appears in the Fall 2008 KBO newsletter References: Birds of Oregon, first edition 2003, edited by D.B. Marshall, M.G. Hunter, & A.L. Contreras; Complete Birds of North America, 2006, edited by Jonathan Alderfer Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, and J. Fallon. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966 – 2007, 2008, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.Tree Swallow Photo: James Livaudais
This article appears in the Summer 2008 KBO newsletter. References: Birds of Oregon, first edition 2003, edited by D.B. Marshall, M.G. Hunter, & A.L. Contreras; The Birds of North America, first edition 2005, edited by Dr. Alan Poole and Dr. Frank Gill. Vaux’s Swift Photo: (c) Jim Livaudais
Melissa Molzahn, KBO Education Specialist The Yellow Warbler, in comparison to other North American wood-warblers, is brilliant yellow. It is often heard singing a beautiful spring song tucked away among willows. Yellow Warblers breed from Alaska and Canada, south to Baja California, and east throughout central Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina. The winter months are spent from southern California and Arizona to Middle and South America, as well as Amazonian Brazil and Peru. Spring migrants tend to arrive in Oregon during late April to early May. They take off early for their winter homes mid-August to early September. During the breeding season, they are very dependent on riparian habitat for nesting. They are found among willows, cottonwoods and native shrubs. They prefer diversity in plant species, especially within the shrub layer. Due to their reliance on riparian habitat throughout Oregon and California, the Yellow Warbler is vulnerable to habitat destruction. Livestock grazing in riparian areas can lead to decreased plant diversity and destruction of willows and shrubs. Therefore, conservation plans call for grazing to be actively managed or eliminated. Yellow Warblers are Brown-headed Cowbird hosts. When cowbirds lay their eggs in a Yellow Warbler’s nest the cowbird chick often out competes the warbler chicks for the parents attention. The Yellow Warbler is a Partners in Flight conservation focal species in California and Oregon and benefits from the protection and restoration of riparian habitats. This article can be found in KBO’s 2008 spring newsletter. References: Birds of Oregon, first edition 2003, edited by D.B. Marshall, M.G. Hunter, & A.L. Contreras; The Birds of North America, first edition 2005, edited by Dr. Alan Poole and Dr. Frank Gil Yellow Warbler male singing; Photo James Livaudais
This article appears in KBO’s winter 2008 newsletter. References: Birds of Oregon edited by D.B. Marshall, M.G. Hunter, & A.L. Contreras; The Sibley Guide to Birds of North America by D.A. Sibley; The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of Birds of North America by P. Ehrlich, D.S. Dobkin, D. Wheye Spotted Towhee. Photo: J. Livaudais
This article appears in KBO’s Winter 2007 newsletter. References: Birds of Oregon edited by D.B. Marshall, M.G. Hunter, & A.L. Contreras; The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior by D.A. Sibley; The Birds of North America by G.R. Geupel and G. Ballard Photo: Brad Sillasen, courteousy of Friends of Sausal Creek