Over the past 19 years, Klamath Bird Observatory has hosted over 170 student volunteer interns from 16 countries and 23 of the US states. Our objective with each individual has been to create a safe and fun learning experience, with the hope that we impart some positive influence on their academic and professional careers. Certainly, we have enjoyed the company of some incredibly bright, energetic, and enthusiastic individuals.
Luis Morales of Mexico interned with KBO in 2012. At that time he was laying the foundation for a new bird observatory in his native San Pancho, Nayarit, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Luis mentored with KBO Executive Director John Alexander as part of his training. The San Pancho Bird Observatory is now a healthy and growing organization advancing bird conservation and education in western Mexico, where many of our nesting songbirds spend their winters.
Keith Larson of Washington interned with KBO in 2004 and 2005. He later completed a PhD at Lund University in Sweden studying songbird migration patterns. Keith is now a research ecologist with the Abisko Arctic Research Lab in northern Sweden, where he is examining the effects of climate change on Arctic ecosystems.
Viviana Cadeña Ruiz of Colombia interned with KBO in 2002 and 2003. She later completed her PhD at Brock University in Canada on the effects of high altitude acclimation on thermoregulation. Viviana is now an eco-physiologist. She recently commenced a three year postdoctoral research fellowship with the University of Melbourne in Australia, where she is researching the adaptive significance of color change in bearded dragon lizards.
These are just a few examples of KBO intern successes – former KBO interns making positive impacts in the world of science and conservation throughout the globe. Our hope, as always, is that their KBO experience has played some part in their accomplishments.
As part of the Obama Administration’s ambitious youth initiative to inspire millions of young adults to play, learn, serve, and work in the great outdoors and the President’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced $6.7 million in grants to support conservation employment and mentoring opportunities at 43 projects on public lands across the country. The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors.
With funding from the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park service, and US Forest Service, Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO) will build on a long-standing partnership with the agencies to expand its internship program and improve outreach to underserved communities, including Native American, Hispanic, and other underserved youth. The combination of KBO’s established long-term monitoring program and an intensive training curriculum foster the integration of youth engagement and professional training. Program expansion will create four six-month internship positions.
KBO Interns are provided with a robust opportunity to gain a realistic appreciation of what a field biologist position entails as part of their training and practical experience. The internship program establishes a working atmosphere of respect and collaboration with intern engagement with staff and Board members, a series of day‐long extracurricular seminars, and KBO social events. Interns also learn how the data they collect are applied to address conservation priorities at regional, continental, and hemispheric scales. Klamath Bird Observatory’s project will be operated out of long-term field residences in the Upper Klamath Basin, OR, and will include activities at 10 monitoring sites in southern Oregon and northern California, and at KBO’s headquarters in Ashland, OR.
This project is being funded through the America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists, a competitive grant matching program launched in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Through the America’s Great Outdoors program, a total of $1.9 million in federal funds is being granted to 43 projects country-wide, and is being leveraged into the $6.7 million to support youth across the country.
Klamath Bird Observatory programs and partnerships exemplify public-private partnerships and meaningful educational and employment opportunities, and focus on public lands conservation which is at the core of the America’s Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists program.
“We have a shared responsibility to protect and promote public lands that belong to all Americans so our children and their children can enjoy them for generations to come. The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps is built through strong public-private partnerships that not only provide employment opportunities to young adults but also provide powerful connections to nature that will last a lifetime,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“The partnerships associated with developing the next generation of conservationists offer an opportunity to connect our young people to the great outdoors,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This program engages young people from diverse backgrounds, including underserved populations, and equips them with the knowledge and critical job skills they need to pursue careers in conservation and land management.”
“NFWF is proud to support this initiative in partnership with the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to provide hundreds of young people with the opportunity to get real world, boots in the mud experience with conservation jobs,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO, NFWF. “Providing these additional resources is a huge win for youth, conservation, and the future of America’s great outdoors.”
Klamath Bird Observatory is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. KBO developed an award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and KBO now applies this model more broadly to care for our shared birds throughout their annual cycles. 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. We owe our success to committed donors, volunteers, staff, and conservation partners who demonstrate that each of us can contribute to a legacy of abundant bird populations and healthy land, air, and water.
Bids can be placed by individuals who are registered for the festival, or by individuals who purchase a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp and a Mountain Bird Conservation Science Stamp ($15 each, $30 in total) at the door to gain entry to the evening festivities, including art auction, no-host bar, and Saturday keynote presentations and music. Funds generated from stamp sales will directly support bird and habitat conservation.
To the right and below, we share a sample of the fine art that will be on display at the first-ever Mountain Bird Festival. The Mountain Bird Festival is a community conservation event hosted by Klamath Bird Observatory, in partnership with the City of Ashland, Ashland Chamber of Commerce, and ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.
Klamath Bird Observatory is currently serving on a national team of scientists and communications specialists working to produce annual State of the Birds reports. The reports link bird conservation to the fundamentals of sustainability. They recognize that bird populations, like the famous canary in the coal mine, serve as bellwethers of the health of whole ecosystems, and thus our economic and social well-being.
As the State of the Birds Team works on the upcoming report, which will provide an update on bird population trends in our country since the initial report five years ago, we reflect on the centennial commemoration of the Passenger Pigeon. Once North America’s most abundant bird, the Passenger Pigeon was driven to extinction 100 years ago. A lesson that emerges from this travesty is that we must use proactive approaches to natural resource management and excellent applied science to avoid such unnecessary losses in the future.
While the State of the Birds reports highlight many inspiring conservation success stories, such as the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon, and the effective management of migratory birds through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, they also outline some alarming trends. For example, declines of western forest birds appear to be sharpening, a reflection of the forest management challenges facing local communities, economies, and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest.
So, by placing a birding festival within a conservation context, we are balancing troubling news about declining bird populations with the optimism that science-based conservation can work. The Mountain Bird Festival celebrates how citizens and science can reverse bird population declines through strategic habitat conservation, an engaged citizenry, and stewardship for resilient ecosystems. During the festival, field trip goers will be exploring the Klamath Siskiyou Bioregion, an area renowned for its high diversity of western forest migratory birds. This is also an area where opportunities abound for improved conservation of these species.
By signing up for the Mountain Bird Festival, every registrant will be purchasing a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp and thereby directly contributing to habitat protection within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Additionally with registration, every festival attendee will be purchasing a Mountain Bird Conservation Science Stamp, with proceeds supporting Klamath Bird Observatory’s scientific programs that are driving western forest bird conservation in the Klamath Siskiyou Bioregion and throughout the Pacific Northwest.
We hope you attend our inaugural Mountain Bird Festival and help us write a new conservation success story starring citizens, science, and mountain birds.
An anonymous donor granted this award recognizing the festival’s central theme – citizens elevating conservation. Every Mountain Bird Festival attendee advances bird conservation in multiple ways; they contribute to habitat protection, they participate as citizen scientists, and they support scientific programs aimed at achieving sustainable natural resources management. “Receiving this award as we prepare to host our first conservation-focused festival adds to our momentum and gives us encouragement that we’re on the right trajectory,” said John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Executive Director.
The Mountain Bird Festival’s conservation impacts are far-reaching. First, each festival attendee receives a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (a.k.a. the Duck Stamp) purchased with a portion of their registration fee. The Federal Duck Stamp Program is considered one of the most successful conservation programs ever; proceeds from stamp sales are used to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection within the National Wildlife Refuge System. More than 6 million acres of strategic wetland habitat have been preserved through this program over the last 80 years.
Second, all bird sightings made during Mountain Bird Festival field trips will be entered into eBird, a real-time, online checklist program that is the fastest growing biological database in the world. The birding community – simply by uploading bird abundance and distribution data into this program – is contributing to an unprecedented understanding of the dynamic health of the natural world; such information allows scientists to identify conservation priorities and better use limited conservation funds. eBird Festivals, such as the Mountain Bird Festival, are accelerating this valuable citizen science trend.
Third, festival attendees also receive a new and attractive Mountain Bird Conservation Science Stamp, modeled after the Duck Stamp and designed by local artist Gary Bloomfield. Each festival attendee purchases this stamp though their registration fee and proceeds support Klamath Bird Observatory’s scientific programs that inform management for healthy lands, airs, and waters in the Klamath-Siskiyou Region of southern Oregon and northern California.
The Mountain Bird Festival is a unique community conservation event that celebrates the globally outstanding Klamath Siskiyou Region, recognized for its abundance of different habitats and species. The festival offers two days of field trips that will search for mountain bird specialties, such as White-headed Woodpecker, Mountain Quail, Calliope Hummingbird, and Great Gray Owl. The festival also features a fine art auction, live music, local foods and beverages, cocktail parties, and stimulating evening presentations.
Klamath Bird Observatory is hosting the 2014 Mountain Bird Festival in partnership with the City of Ashland, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, and many other organizations.
Birding festivals are growing in popularity across the world, and, increasingly, these community events are becoming “eBird Festivals.” eBird is a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. eBird festivals use the eBird program to track the many birds seen on the field trips offered during these events that celebrate birds and birding. eBird Festivals also provide outreach, promoting the use of eBird by helping festival attendees set up their own eBird accounts and providing information about the powerful data entry and exploration tools offered by eBird. By integrating eBird within festival activities these eBird Festivals are building on a significant opportunity for the birding community to contribute to the science that drives conservation worldwide.
Two of the first birding festivals to adopt eBirding as part of their annual celebrations were the Winter Wings Festival, held in February in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival held in April in Arcata, California. These festivals first adopted eBirding as an integral part of their activities in 2008 in collaboration with Klamath Bird Observatory, who at that time created the regional eBird portal, Klamath-Siskiyou eBird. This portal celebrates the globally outstanding biodiversity of the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and provides stories on the extensive conservation science efforts that have been developed in the region through the Klamath Bird Monitoring Network. This eBird Portal will soon be transformed into eBird Northwest, which will serve a broader geographical area while also acting as the citizen science application of Avian Knowledge Northwest. Avian Knowledge Northwest is a regional node of the Avian Knowledge Network that provides information from comprehensive datasets on birds and the environment for scientists, natural resource managers, and other individuals interested in conservation and science in the northwestern United States.
Between 2008 and 2013, the Winter Wings Festival in southwest Oregon logged 309 checklists documenting 195 species into the regional Klamath-Siskiyou eBird portal. During this same time period, the Godwit Days Festival in northwest California logged 449 checklists documenting 283 species. A new eBird Festival, the Mountain Bird Festival, will be hosted by Klamath Bird Observatory and held for the first time this spring in Ashland, Oregon. These festivals are nurturing citizen-driven conservation by promoting eBird among their festival attendees and by helping each attendee contribute to one of the largest and fastest growing biological data resources in existence, eBird.
eBird was launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.
The Search for the Conservation Meme (10:00am – 10:25am)
Brandon M. Breen, Klamath Bird ObservatoryIn his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” to illustrate how evolutionary principles could help us understand cultural change in human societies. Each cultural idea, or “meme,” experiences increases or decreases in its expression in a human culture based, at least in part, on its merit or fitness. From a conservation perspective, the question arises, Does there exist a conservation meme with the potential for widespread expression in Western culture? This talk will be an exploration of how evolutionary principles can help us understand the prospects for a culture of conservation in the 21st century.
Avian Knowledge Northwest: An Online Science Delivery Tool (10:45am – 11:10am)
John D. Alexander, Jaime L. Stephens, Brandon M. Breen, Klamath Bird ObservatoryAvian Knowledge Northwest, a regional node of the Avian Knowledge Network, provides information on birds and the environment for professionals engaged in natural resource management in the Pacific Northwest. The data center is designed to advance bird and habitat conservation through the efficient delivery of information, specifically to (1) bring in and archive data, (2) ensure the multitude of datasets are discoverable and readily available, (3) combine datasets for broad-scale analyses, such as future species abundance under climate change scenarios, and (4) build a community of data providers and users who collaboratively identify information needs to address conservation challenges. Avian Knowledge Northwest is integrated with eBird Northwest, an application that encourages contributions from a growing citizen science community.
The first scientific specimen of the Ferruginous Hawk was shot by Ferdinand Deppe near Monterey, California in 1834. The first scientific description, based on that specimen, was written by Martin Heinrich Lichtenstein in 1838 in Berlin.American naturalists, including John James Audubon, remained ignorant of the species for another decade until specimens were collected by Edward Kern, the artist on Colonel Fremont’s expedition to California in 1846. Kern observed, as it happened, that the Ferruginous was very good eating. When John Cassin published his lone volume of Illustrations of the Birds of California, Texas, Oregon, British and Russian American (1856) his book contained the first colored illustration of the Ferruginous Hawk. It was known at that time as “Ferruginous Buzzard.” Cassin wrote, “Since Mr. Kern, the only American naturalist who has noticed this bird is Dr. Heermann, who has met with it during both of his visits to California…” Then he quotes from Heermann’s journal: “During a previous visit to California, I had seen this species in the valley of the Sacramento river, and had considered it as rare in that section…but during the recent survey…in the southern part of the state, I found it very abundant, and on one occasion saw five or six individuals in view at the same moment, in the mountains, about sixty miles east of San Diego… “As large tracts of that country inhabited by this bird are often entirely without trees, it alights on the ground or on some slightly elevated tuft of grass or stone, where it sits patiently for hours watching for its prey….” Even as late as 1874 Elliott Coues wrote about the dispute over whether the Ferruginous Buzzard was truly a separate species. There were some who thought it was a form of the Rough-legged Hawk. Both have insulating feathers along their legs. In Birds of the Northwest, A Handbook, Coues declares the Ferruginous to be a separate species and later decades have proven him correct. Coues wrote, “According to me observations…the Ferruginous Buzzards have no partiality for watery places, thus differing from the eastern Rough-legs. About Fort Whipple [Arizona] the birds mostly resorted to the open plains and the grassy glades intervening between patches of pinewoods… “This hawk is known as the ‘California Squirrel Hawk’ in some localities…the name is gained from their feeding extensively, in California upon ‘ground squirrels’….” The Ferruginous Hawk is one of the many species that can be seen during Klamath Bird Observatory’s Mountain Bird Festival, to be held May 30th – June 1st in Ashland, Oregon in 2014.