Ken Keffer and Kim Check write about the wonder and curiosity which captivates many children and adults while visiting a bird banding station. Since the first record of bird banding by John James Audubon in 1803, thousands of people have had the experience of releasing a bird back into the wild after placing a small band on its leg and even more have been able to see the excitement in a child’s face when seeing a bird up-close for the first time. Though bird banding stations are increasingly visited by environmental education programs a small amount of research has been done to show the effectiveness of these programs. One study conducted by Amy Busch and Ashley Dayer of The Klamath Bird Observatory showed 4th and 5th grade students demonstrating scientific skill and having an increase in knowledge and awareness of birds after participating in KBO’s Songbird, Science and School programs which involve both classroom visits and field-trips to the banding station. Click here to read the full article on Bird Education Network Bulletin.
www.stateofthebirds.org. KBO’s executive director, John Alexander as well as Southern Oregon University’s Stewart Janes and Ornithologist Barbara Massey were interviewed by the Mail Tribune for the article “The State of the Birds”. Janes states that the report is straightforward, “Birds are declining. We’ve done a great job of preventing extinction, but not as well with maintaining healthy populations.” Though many species are declining some such as the Whooping Crane, whose population was once down to 16 individuals is now up to 540, are starting to increase credited partially to the Endangered Species Act. Bird hunters have also made an impact to conservation through funding from sales tax on guns and ammunition. Alexander explains that birds are indicators of how well ecological systems are doing and land managers should consider the health of the birds when assessing management practices. Not only do land managers and scientist make an impact in bird conservation but all levels of birders can as well. Imputing sightings into ebird, www.ebird.org/klamath-siskiyou, and participating in Christmas and breeding bird counts provide valuable information to help decipher the health of the birds. Looking over the report Alexander states “(It’s) a scary picture, but there’s optimism. Birds are resilient, as are our ecosystems.” Click here to read the full article in the Mail Tribune.
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.
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This article appears in KBO’s summer 2009 newsletter, click here to view the full newsletter.
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Every year in July people gather in the forest along the Long Tom River to celebrate the Oregon Country Fair. Today throughout the Northwest only five percent of the original riparian forest remains, making this an important site. Many migrating and resident birds use this forest as their breeding grounds and are still actively nesting when the fair takes place. Each year before and during the fair, bird nests are found in highly used areas including, in 2008 when a Bewick’s Wren nest was discovered in the women’s bathroom. Klamath Bird Observatory and its partners help to protect the nests by flagging off areas close by to keep curious Fair-goers at a distance, which they seem happy to do. It is important to keep a distance from nests because nestling birds need to eat often to survive, when there is a disturbance (such as a crowd) around the nest, parents are unlikely to take food to the young chicks. The KBO booth is located in the Community Village and is happy to help with any nests found, questions related to birds, and also welcomes people to stop by and add to the fair’s species list or share a fun bird related story. To read the whole Fair Family News article and learn more about nesting birds at the Oregon Country Fair click here.
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.