Klamath Bird Observatory works with private landowners to encourage bird-friendly practices. Working with our partners, we also guide and assess restoration on private lands. We use birds as indicators of the health of the environment because they are diverse and individual species represent specific ecological conditions. Similarly to each individual landowner, each bird species has its own story to tell. By listening to those stories we can learn about the quality of the habitats that birds inhabit and identify restoration actions that can improve the health of the land.
For private landowners considering restoration of their land, understanding the existing and potential future bird community is a good way to grasp the ecological changes that are possible through restoration. Recently, KBO has been working with a number of landowners who are implementing oak restoration. When we visit lands prior to restoration, the bird community we hear tells us about the current habitat characteristics. For example, in a mixed-conifer forest with an oak component we will detect a mixture of birds that prefer both conifers and oaks, or sometimes only conifer-associated birds, such as Red-breasted Nuthatch, Spotted Towhee, Hermit Warbler, and Pacific-slope Flycatcher. If a landowner’s goal is to restore the historic oak woodland, we would expect to see a dramatic shift in the bird community after restoration, to bird species such as White-breasted Nuthatch, California Towhee, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Ash-throated Flycatcher. After learning to identify some of the common birds, landowners begin to see the links between birds and their habitats, and also the possibilities for their land.
The Rotary Foundation and Rotary District 5110 of Oregon and northern California have awarded a Humanitarian Grant of $12,000 to fund an international capacity building project to be implemented in partnership with San Pancho Bird Observatory in Mexico and Ashland-based Klamath Bird Observatory. The Rotary Club of Ashland, collaborating with the Jaltemba Bay Rotary Club of Mexico and supported by Shasta Valley, Bend High Desert, and Cottage Grove Rotary Clubs of District 5110, initially promoted this project and provided the funding required to receive matching awards from Rotary District 5110 and The Rotary Foundation.
This grant will allow the implementation and completion of a project focused on bird conservation and sustainable community development in western Mexico. This project builds on Klamath Bird Observatory’s successful model of developing professional, economic, educational, and conservation capacities in Latin American and Caribbean countries through a grassroots science-based approach to international migratory bird conservation.
A growing tourism industry along the Nayarit coast in Mexico offers low-paying employment that draws Mexican youth out of rural communities where there are fewer career options. Away from their families, these youth become easy recruits into prostitution and drug mafias, leading to the disintegration of social structure. Furthermore, existing tourism projects cause habitat loss that can result in population declines of resident and migratory birds. San Pancho Bird Observatory will use grant funds to build local capacity for careers in science and ecotourism that can benefit communities, maintain social structure, and protect natural resources of global significance.
With support from Klamath Bird Observatory, San Pancho Bird Observatory will train 20 Mexican participants on the science of monitoring bird populations during a two-week workshop in the Pacific State of Nayarit. Workshop participants will then return to their respective communities and develop bird monitoring programs that collectively track the health of Mexican bird populations in the region. Additionally, San Pancho Bird Observatory will offer community education programs in at least six coastal villages to inspire an appreciation for birds and build capacity for birdwatching-based tourism. San Pancho Bird Observatory will also strengthen the connections among coastal Nayarit communities to create networks for support and information exchange related to sustainable development.
This project applies principles of sustainability and recognizes the links between ecosystem conservation, social equity, and economic development. The project meets an international bird conservation priority by building science capacity for Mexican conservation leaders, and also meets economic and community development goals of The Rotary Foundation. Dr. John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Executive Director, calls the awarding of this grant “a significant event with regard to sustainability and the links between ecological well-being, economic well-being, and human well-being.”
— Brandon Breen
Throughout our nation, some two million ranchers and farmers and about 10 million woodland owners look after 1.43 billion acres, or roughly 60% of the land area of the United States. These private lands support more than 300 forest-breeding bird species, and several grassland birds have more than 90% of their distribution on private lands. Waterfowl also depend heavily on private lands. Innovative conservation partnerships are changing the face of private lands conservation as private landowners see real benefits and neighbors follow suit through so-called “contagious conservation.”
In our own backyard, Klamath Bird Observatory is partnering with Lomakatsi Restoration Project, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private landowners, and using birds to guide restoration on 2,000 acres of private oak woodlands in southern Oregon and northern California. This unique collaboration—the Central Umpqua-Mid Klamath Oak Conservation Project—received the 2012 Department of Interior Partners in Conservation Award and is restoring one of the West Coast’s most imperiled and biologically rich habitats, benefiting Oak Titmouse, Acorn Woodpecker, and Black-throated Gray Warbler. (To learn more about oaks ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest, download Klamath Bird Observatory and American Bird Conservancy’s Land Manager’s Guide to Bird Habitat and Populations in Oak Ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, as well as the supplemental guide that features species accounts.)
Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion and beyond, and has contributed to the high-profile annual State of the Birds reports since the initial report in 2009. Klamath Bird Observatory believes that bird conservation is relevant to every American because the same landscapes that support diverse and abundant bird communities also provide vital services to humans.
John Alexander and Jaime Stephens from Klamath Bird Observatory, and Marko Bey from Lomakatsi Restoration Project, will discuss the 2013 State of the Birds Report on Private Lands on Jefferson Public Radio’s news and information program Jefferson Exchange on Wednesday, July 10th from 9:00am until 10:00am. Tune-in to learn more about what birds tell us about the state of the environment; how these local organizations are working with private landowners to provide benefits for landowners, wildlife, and society; and how America’s famous land ethic—articulated by Aldo Leopold—is being realized.
Migrating birds met migrating biologists in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion as Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO) engaged community members on International Migratory Bird Day on May 11th. Tatiana Straatman of Brazil and Liberato Pop of Belize were among the KBO biologists demonstrating bird banding and survey methods used to monitor bird populations and inform conservation efforts.
KBO has an international capacity building program that is dedicated to empowering biologists to use standard monitoring techniques throughout the summer, migration, and wintering ranges of the migratory birds that are shared among the countries of North, Central, and South America. Through hemisphere-wide monitoring efforts we can untangle the threats that birds face throughout their life-cycles and use what we learn to protect the habitats and ecosystems that these birds depend on.
With support from the US Forest Service’s Wings Across the Americas Programs, Southern Oregon University’s International Programs, and the Rotary Club of Ashland, KBO has hosted and provided training to 35 international interns from 17 countries outside the United States. We have hosted students from Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Holland, Hungary, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Perú, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and United Kingdom.
John D Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory Executive Director
This article is the fourth installment in the series Achieving Partners in Flight Strategic Goals and Objectives.
Partners in Flight’s ability to support full life cycle conservation and direct bird conservation resources toward the highest priority needs requires detailed information about bird populations. Constant effort mist netting and bird banding is a demographic monitoring technique that provides this needed information through data that can be used to quantify two important drivers of population change: reproductive success and survival. Such data help us understand where birds are most threatened within their life cycle. If reproductive success is low, then conservation on the breeding grounds might be effective in reversing declines. Low survival might instead require increased conservation efforts in migration corridors or on wintering grounds.
There is a need for increased capacity in demographic monitoring throughout the Americas. To meet this need Klamath Bird Observatory provides banding workshops in a variety of international arenas. In August 2012, we teamed up with the North American Ornithological Conference scientific committee, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the North American Banding Council, and Iona Island Bird Observatory to offer an intensive banding workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia. Participants from Canada, the US, Mexico, Colombia, and Puerto Rico learned about bird identification, ageing and sexing techniques, safe handling procedures, and safe mist net use among other topics during this four day course.
For more information about KBO’s banding workshops visit our website page about science training.