This summer KBO is implementing its third season of aquatic bird surveys as part of the OregonCoordinated Aquatic Bird Monitoring Program. As part of this coordinated monitoring effort, KBO is focusing on seven species of marsh-nesting, colonial aquatic birds, including the Eared Grebe—Podiceps nigricollis. The Eared Grebe is the most abundant grebe species in North America, with an estimated population of 3.7 million. In its breeding plumage the Eared Grebe is black with chestnut flanks, bright white underparts and a scarlet iris. Its most distinguishable feature is a fanshaped, reddish-orange tuft that extends from the eyes to the back of the head. Eared Grebes typically winter in saltwater estuaries along the Pacific Coast and breed in freshwater habitats. In Oregon the majority of breeding areas are in Klamath, Lake and Harney counties, while breeding occurs in California in the east-central and northeastern portion of the state. Eared Grebes nest in large colonies, sometimes numbering in the thousands, in shallow water one to four feet deep. KBO survey crews have found Eared Grebes at more than 40 sites in southcentral Oregon. The status of Eared Grebes is of interest in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion in part because the region’s many lakes are subject to year to-year water level fluctuations which can impact Eared Grebe’s nesting habitat. Understanding water level impacts on Eared Grebes on their breeding habitats will be key to maintaining their abundance. Note: The Oregon Coordinated Aquatic Bird Monitoring Program is part of a large, multi-partner effort to determine the status of aquatic birds through the Western United States and to better inform waterbird management and conservation decisions. Source: Marshall, David B., Matthew G. Hunter and Alan L. Contreras, eds. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003. This article can be found in KBO’s Summer 2010 Newsletter.
This article can be found in KBO’s Spring 2010 newsletter.
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.