During the breeding season, the Hermit Warbler (Dendroica occidentalis) can be found in coniferous forests along the west coast of Oregon, Washington, and California, in the Cascade mountains of western Oregon and Washington, and in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. This species winters in montane pine, pine-oak, and cloud forests of Mexico and Central America through Nicaragua. A small, insectivorous warbler, it has a yellow head, white underparts, and gray upperparts. Males have black throats, while females’ throats are grayish, with some black. The species is known to hybridize with Townsend’s Warblers, resulting in birds with plumage characteristics of both species. The Hermit Warbler is a habitat specialist. During breeding it is most often found in the interior of cool, moist, mature coniferous forests, from sea level into the mountains. It is most abundant in stands over 30 years old, and is not generally found in stands under 20 years old, or in stands that have been extensively thinned. As the Hermit Warbler usually resides high in the canopy, it is more often heard than seen. The male’s variable song is multi-part, consisting of 3 or 4 buzzy notes—“zeegle zeegle zeegle”—; followed by a rising-and-falling ending phrase—“zee-o-seet.” The Hermit Warbler is a State of the Birds western forest obligate species, meaning that it is dependent on coniferous forest habitats. It is also a Partners in Flight Watchlist Species. Partners in Flight’s Conservation Strategy for Landbirds in Coniferous Forests of Oregon and Washington identifies the Hermit Warbler as a focal species for mature, multi-layered, closed canopy forests. Through improving habitat conditions for Hermit Warbler, it is thought that other species that depend on older coniferous forest habitats will also benefit. There is concern that the Hermit Warbler may be declining due to extensive loss of mature forest habitats. The 2011 State of the Birds report indicates that National Forests support 51% of Hermit Warblers breeding in the United States. This high level of stewardship responsibility provides the U.S. Forest Service with a unique opportunity to reverse potential declines in Hermit Warblers through appropriate forest management that will, in turn, improve habitat conditions for a variety of western forest obligate species. Protecting and restoring the Hermit Warblers’ habitat throughout its breeding range will require collaborations among non-governmental organizations like KBO, the Forest Service, and other public and private forest mangers in Oregon, Washington, and California. Broader collaborations among international partners will also be necessary to ensure connectivity between Hermit Warblers’ breeding, migratory, and wintering habitats. This article appears in KBO’s Fall 2011 Newsletter.
Klamath Falls Herald and News.
This article can be seen in the Summer 2011 Newsletter. Sources: Altman, B. 2000. Conservation strategy for landbirds in lowlands and valleys of western Oregon and Washington. PIF; Gruson, E. S. 1972. Words for birds: A lexicon of North American birds with biographical notes. Quadrangle Books, Inc., New York, New York; Marshall et al, eds. 2003. Birds of Oregon: A general reference. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, Oregon; Rich et al. 2004. Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
Daily Tidings’ website.
Animal Nature: A week for great blue herons, sea lions, bald eagles and ligerThe great blue heron is North America’s largest and most widespread heron, it has also been Portland Oregon’s city bird since 1986. Every year in Portland heron enthusiasts gather the first week in June for Great Blue Heron Week. Ross Island was known for one long standing heronry, a nest site for herons, which held about 55 nests in adjacent trees. A few years ago a pair of bald eagles moved in, after heron chicks were being taken from the nests the herons moved on to a different location. Other heronries are thriving, holding up to 100 nests. The Klamath Bird Observatory is involved in surveying heronries throughout Oregon to determine the number of breeding adults. To read the full article on Oregon Live click here.
Remember Flower Power – a slogan used as a symbol of passive resistance and non-violent ideology in the 1960s? The Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) is a big believer— flowers are very nearly all it eats! Studies have found that plant material makes up 95% to 97% of this songbird’s natural diet, with flowers comprising up to 50% of this. This large sparrow of the north country nests exclusively in Alaska and western Canada, on the ground in habitats above the treeline. It is found in western California, Oregon, and Washington only during the winter, spring, and fall seasons. The Golden-crowned Sparrow is a common feeder bird, though preferring to forage on the ground, often flocking with other sparrows. Dark-streaked brown upperparts, light-brownish underparts, a long tail, and a distinctive yellow (golden) crown distinguish it from others in the lowland brush or field edges it frequents. The yellow crown is bordered with dark stripes and is most bright in mature individuals. The scientific genus name Zonotrichia is Greek for “bird with bands,” an allusion to the crown stripes – from zone for band (or stripe), and trichias for small bird. The species name atricapilla is Latin for “black hairs”, coined from ater or atri for black and capillus for hair, referring to the black bordered crown. Although there is some evidence of this species increasing in number, there is concern that not enough is known, and that monitoring is insufficient in its northern range—an important challenge for researchers and land managers. The data that KBO collects from Golden-crowned Sparrows captured in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion during the migration and winter seasons contribute greatly to our understanding of this species’ conservation status in North America. Sources: Marshall et al., eds. 2003. Birds of Oregon: A general reference. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, Oregon; Gruson 1972. Words for birds: A lexicon of North American birds with biographical notes. Quadrangle Books, Inc., New York, New York; Martin et al. 1951. American wildlife and plants: A guide to wildlife food habits. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, New York; Rich et al. 2004. Partners in Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. This article appears in KBO’s Spring 2011 Newsletter.