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.
This article first appeared on the American Bird Conservancy Blog.
Migratory birds—which must overcome so many natural challenges as they journey from one end of the globe to another—are having a much harder time overcoming the obstacles that humans have added to the mix: habitat loss, environmental contaminants, climate change, and a lot more.But we humans can be helpful, too. I saw vivid proof of that last January in the highlands of northern Nicaragua, where declining migrants such as Wood Thrushes spend the nonbreeding season. For years, this area has been a stronghold for farmers growing quality shade coffee. Not coincidentally, it’s also known as a paradise for birds. An Island of Fertile Green
Everywhere we looked, we saw migrants: Philadelphia, Warbling, and Yellow-throated vireos; Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Wilson’s, and Yellow warblers rolling through the understory in constant, flickering motion; Western Kingbirds and Western Wood-Pewees hawking insects in the treetops; Summer Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks mixing with resident species like Black-headed Saltators and Clay-colored Robins. Flocks of Baltimore Orioles descended on blossoming trees and plucked the brilliant yellow flowers, dropping showers of blooms as they drank the rich pockets of nectar they’d revealed.Later, in the village of San Juan del Río Coco, I met with members of a cooperative of more than 400 small coffee producers who raise more than 2.5 million pounds of shade coffee every year. These producers raise coffee the way it’s been farmed for centuries there, below the canopy of intact, functioning forests that provide critical habitat for scores of migratory bird species. When these shade coffee farmers prosper, the outlook for migratory birds gets brighter, too.
Seen from space, though, the hills around San Juan del Río Coco are an island of fertile green surrounded by hundreds of square kilometers of land already converted to sun coffee, pasture, and grain fields.Increasingly, small shade coffee farms have been destroyed to make way for sun-tolerant coffee—an industrialized, chemical-dependent system that renders what had been prime bird habitat into the ecological equivalent of a parking lot. By some estimates, more than 40 percent of the shade coffee farms in Latin America have already been lost to satiate the demand for cheap coffee. Drink the Right Coffee Americans drink one-third of the world’s supply of coffee and are the driving force behind the shift from traditional, shade-grown coffee to habitat-destroying sun coffee. The decisions we make at the supermarket or specialty shop have profound effects on birds. Sun coffee may be cheaper to purchase, but in truth, there is no such thing as “cheap coffee.” Throughout the tropics, inexpensive sun-grown varieties exact an enormous toll on biodiversity, not to mention rural families and small cooperatives steamrollered by large agribusinesses. Fortunately, there is a surprisingly easy solution: Drink the right coffee. Scientists at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) created the Bird Friendly program to certify the very highest-quality shade coffee farms—the ones that provide the greatest benefit to migratory birds. By certifying this exceptional coffee, the SMBC program elevates its grade, so it then commands a premium price in the marketplace. This increased value creates a powerful incentive for farmers to keep shade coffee farms intact. While there are other shade certification programs, Bird Friendly is widely regarded as the gold standard. It requires USDA organic certification, and to qualify, farmers must meet a rigorous list of requirements, from canopy height and native tree diversity to pollution controls when the coffee is milled. The result? Coffee that safeguards habitat for the birds we care about, while providing an opportunity for farmers to receive a higher price for their crop—and which, because it ripens slowly in the shade, tastes far richer and more complex in your cup. That’s the way it happens in the shade forest oasis that surrounds the Nicaraguan village of San Juan del Río Coco. Please, do what you can to protect this oasis and many more like it—for the bugs, fruit, and nectar these healthy forests still produce, and for the way of life that supports both rural families and migratory birds. All you have to do is choose Bird Friendly coffee. It may be the easiest and tastiest way to help migratory birds. Editor’s Note: Klamath Bird Observatory proudly drinks Bird Friendly coffee in our offices. Ask your local coffee shops, supermarkets, and food co-ops for shade grown Bird Friendly coffee. Scott Weidensaul is the author of more than two dozen books on natural history, including Living on the Wind and Of a Feather, as well as his newest, The First Frontier. He is also an active field researcher, specializing in the migration of owls and hummingbirds. Weidensaul lives in Pennsylvania.
May 30th, May 31st, and June 1st, 2014
Ashland, OregonMark your calendar, the first-ever Mountain Bird Festival is coming! Klamath Bird Observatory will host this community conservation event next spring in Ashland, Oregon. Our vision is to create a festival that combines a celebration of nature with the stewardship ethic needed to ensure thriving landscapes for humans and wildlife. Every citizen who participates in this festival will become a significant steward of the science that drives bird conservation.
The idea for this festival began several years ago with KBO Board President Harry Fuller. Harry is a dedicated birder and indefatigable birdwatching guide. As Harry took clients on birding trips throughout the region, he noticed how impressed they were with the birdlife as well as the region’s many other attractions.
We hope you attend the festival for the guided bird walks and keynote presentations and stay for the destination lunches, fine art, music, and more. We will have half-day and full day field trips both Saturday and Sunday. For non-birders Ashland provides a variety of activities. There are over a dozen boutique wineries within a half hour’s drive. The downtown has many interesting shops and galleries. There are brewpubs, book stores, coffee shops, boutiques, movie theatres and a variety of specialty shops. Of course, Ashland is home of the widely acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival with afternoon and evening plays all three days of the festival; be sure and get your tickets well in advance.
Some of our target birds are: Redhead, Common Merganser, Mountain Quail, nesting Sandhill Cranes, nesting Osprey, Ferruginous Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, dancing Western and Clark’s Grebes, Wilson’s Snipe, Black Terns, Great Gray Owl, Western Screech-Owl, Vaux’s Swift, Calliope Hummingbird, Prairie Falcon, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Cassin’s Vireo, Mountain Chickadee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Townsend’s Solitaire, Mountain Bluebird, Hermit Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Vesper Sparrow, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Lazuli Bunting.
This article is the sixth installment in the series Achieving Partners in Flight Strategic Goals and Objectives.
An important bird conservation goal is to integrate Partners in Flight priorities and objectives into public agency natural resource planning and action. Partners in Flight uses a science-based method for bird conservation that incorporates a multi-species approach for assessing landbird vulnerabilities and needs, setting measurable conservation targets, describing management to meet these targets, and measuring the effectiveness of conservation actions. This approach can help land managers meet their ecosystem management needs. By aligning science, planning, and implementation among partners, we can more strategically implement actions that address priority science and habitat needs.
This strategic goal builds upon ten examples that illustrate both the process and science behind bird conservation throughout the western United States. These examples were recently featured in Informing Ecosystem Management: Science and Process for Landbird Conservation in the Western United States, a Biological Technical Publication published by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The publication (1) describes how bird conservation and effectiveness monitoring can be integrated into land management guidelines with an emphasis on partnerships, and (2) presents case studies which highlight bird monitoring within the adaptive management framework. The publication emphasizes both the science of monitoring and the process of its integration into land management because both are necessary in order for effectiveness monitoring to fully impact decision making.
Collaborating with national and regional partners, Klamath Bird Observatory is working toward better integrating the Partners in Flight approach within federal management planning and implementation. At the 2012 annual meeting of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, we had an opportunity to present specific examples of how the tools developed by Partners in Flight can tie into natural resource management planning to an array of national resource management leaders. We then teamed up with partners in Oregon and Washington to take the message on the road, presenting a traveling workshop that provided training to a wider audience on the use of Partners in Flight tools for assessing conservation needs, setting quantifiable management objectives, evaluating management alternatives, and monitoring management effectiveness.
We are now following up with regional partners to provide guidance on the process for identifying species that can serve as indicators of habitat and/or ecosystem condition at geographic scales appropriate for various land management and monitoring purposes. We are working with Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management partners to develop projects that focus on using Partners in Flight’s conservation planning process in support of broad scaled and project level planning. The recently published Habitat Conservation for Landbirds in Coniferous Forests of Western Oregon and Washington (Oregon-Washington Partners in Flight) is serving to guide these efforts. This plan identifies 25 focal species that collectively represent the important habitat components of a functioning coniferous forest ecosystem.