It’s Year of the Bird April! This month’s call to action is to both celebrate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s century of success and raise concern about recent and abrupt changes to it. eBird Northwest has published a great article about this important law that has influenced bird and habitat conservation in many ways.
Posts Tagged ‘Klamath Bird Observatory’
The OSU Extension Land Steward Program and Rogue River Watershed Council will host the Living on Your Land Conference April 14, 2018 8 am to 6 pm at the Rogue Community College Redwood Campus in Grants Pass, Oregon. The one-day conference is for small farmers, small woodland owners, land owners or managers, wildlife enthusiasts, backyard gardeners and those interested in our region’s natural resources. KBO Research Biologist Dr. Sarah Rockwell will join a blue ribbon collection of foresters, botanists, biologists, working farmers, and other land management experts presenting more than two dozen 90-minute classes on a variety of topics related to natural resources and land management.
Sarah and Trout Unlimited Biologist Jay Doino will co-present the class “Birds and Fish That Reside in Your Streamside Backyard and How You Can Help Them”.
Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, with support from the Bureau of Land Management, will host the 2018 Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Research Symposium this Thursday March 15 evening. Come learn about recently-conducted fieldwork from both students and professional scientists within the Monument in our backyard.
KBO Executive Director Dr. John Alexander will present the Symposium keynote with a talk titled “KBO Science Informing Adaptive Management and Conservation in Our National Monument”. His talk will explore the more than 20 years KBO has been conducting monitoring and research in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in collaboration with the BLM and many other partners. The results have and continue to inform adaptive management that improves ecological conservation. Dr. Alexander will summarize these results, focusing on how KBO’s science has helped to shape management actions that have benefited migratory birds, ecosystem health, and biodiversity in the Monument.
The Symposium will be held at the Southern Oregon University Science Auditorium (CLICK HERE for map) March 15, 2018 from 7 pm to 9 pm.
The Year of the Bird’s Call to Action for the month of March is to raise awareness of the value of landscaping with native plants. Creating a bird-friendly habitat in yards featuring native plants is a great way to help birds facing changes in their natural habitats. Planting native plant species in your yard, garden, patio, or balcony can create a vital recharging station for birds passing through and even a sanctuary for nesting birds. Having more birds will help with garden pests naturally and the native plants will require much less watering. March might be a little early for planting but not too early for planning ahead to birdify your yard.
KBO’s Birdify Your Yard! Landscaping for Birds and Native Plants for Birds in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion flyer offers several home landscaping suggestions for attracting birds and includes a list of local bird-friendly native plants.
eBird Northwest has just posted an article titled Year of the Bird: March Monthly Action with more information about including bird-friendly native plants in our “habitats”. The article includes a link to the National Audubon Society’s Plants for Birds webpage and their Native Plant Finder Database with tips for planning a bird-friendly landscape.
If you haven’t already heard, 2018 is Year of the Bird! The National Geographic Society is celebrating the centenary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act with a year-long celebration of birds. Dozens of Year of the Bird partners, including Klamath Bird Observatory, are coordinating Year of the Bird activities.
Volunteers from Humboldt State University help KBO recapture Yellow-breasted Chats returning from Mexico with valuable data
Introduction by Sarah Rockwell:
We described the start of the Yellow-breasted Chat geolocator project in a previous blog post (CLICK HERE TO VIEW). Geolocators are lightweight devices designed to track a birds’ whereabouts by recording daily light levels. These novel data can then be used to determine migratory routes and wintering grounds—we need to know where birds go when they leave their breeding grounds before we can understand potential conservation needs during migration and winter. Since then, we have recruited a Ph.D. student, Kristen Mancuso, who is supervised by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Environment and Climate Change Canada. KBO’s Executive Director, John Alexander, is an advisor on her committee. She is studying chats in British Columbia, northern California, and Mexico—throughout the range of the western subspecies. Here is a project volunteer’s account from last year’s field season!
By Kelly Commons, HSU Master’s student
On my first day with the Yellow-breasted Chat project, I woke up to a dark, early morning with more than a bit of chill to the air. Since it was my first day, I would have the help of veteran chat-catching volunteer Kachina Rowland and the project leader Kristen Mancuso. We were on the hunt (to catch and release!) chats that wore color bands on their legs which meant they also wore a geolocator device we needed to remove for its record of where they had been since last year.
We had made our way to a site the team had been to several times before (unsuccessfully) to catch the notorious Dark Blue-White-Dark Blue-metal (DWDX for short). As the sun rose high over the hills and the day turned long, Mr. DWDX had managed to evade our nets. In fact his constant chattering song seemed to mock our best efforts. Disappointed but still game, we tried elsewhere looking for color-banded chats in riparian forest overgrown with blackberries that chats seem to love. Chats make a confusing variety of grunts, chatters, and whistles, so we had to keep a sharp ear out for any of their more subtle call notes. We found several singing males, but none of them were color banded. The day ended warm and sunny but with just three more days left to find our chats!
The next morning we trudged through streams, rocky hills, and blackberry bushes and while we found several chats, none of them were banded. About to give up, we finally heard one last male singing in the distance and scouted his territory before calling it a day. We split up to opposite sides of this chat’s bramble. I caught glimpses of him flying back and forth across an opening in the trees, but I couldn’t see his legs well enough to tell if he had any color bands. I was moving to a better location when Kristen spotted him—and his bands! This male had a geolocator and we were determined to catch him the next day. A successful day deserves a reward and after we got back to camp we treated ourselves to s’mores around the campfire.
On the next to last day in the field, we trudged over and through yesterday’s streams, rocky hills, and blackberry bushes to set up nets for our newly found bird. We set up wooden decoy males by the nets even though the other birds the team had tried to catch weren’t falling for this trick. However, within minutes of playing a recorded male song at the decoy, our male flew in the net! Gotcha! We removed his geolocator, took measurements, feather samples, and snapped a few pictures before setting him on his merry way. We even had enough time left in the morning to try for old DWDX again! Nets and decoys were deployed for him but we weren’t able to repeat our morning’s luck. A lovely female Black-headed Grosbeak in the net did brighten my mood before we headed back to camp.
The last morning was full of promise as we attempted to catch DWDX one more time. We set up nets in a different location, but still weren’t able to convince him to come into our nets. We did, however, catch his previously unbanded neighbor and outfitted him with some spiffy new bands before we let him go. As the day wore on, we became less and less hopeful. However, a feisty Red-breasted Sapsucker caught in the net was just the pick-me-up we needed to end the day on a good note. We may not have caught our nemesis, but we left with smiles on our faces. Now Kristen moves on to British Columbia to catch returning chats there, as Kachina and I return to regular life, with a bit more knowledge and experience under our belts.
Editor’s note: The 2017 Yellow-breasted Chat banding team, comprised of PhD student Kristen Mancuso, KBO Research Biologist Sarah Rockwell, and Humboldt State University volunteers Kachina Rowland and Kelly Commons, recaptured three males with geolocators this season, nearly doubling the sample size from the Trinity River region. We even recovered one from a male who had dutifully carried his geolocator backpack since 2014!
The National Geographic Society, in partnership with National Audubon Society, Birdlife International, and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology have proclaimed 2018 as the Year of the Bird. The Year of the Bird marks 100 years of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. The Year of the Bird will celebrate the wonder of our feathered friends and provide an opportunity for people everywhere to recommit themselves to protecting birds. The Year of the Bird will be 12 months of storytelling, science, and conservation aimed at heightening public awareness of birds and the importance of protecting them.
KBO, many other organizations, and people all around the world are committing to help protect birds today and for the next hundred years. Everyone can join in and be a part of the #YearoftheBird! National Geographic will be highlighting simple actions you can take part in each month to make a difference for birds—visit their website (see link below) to read more about this special year. Another wonderful resource is the All About Birds website’s “6 Resolutions To Help You #BirdYourWorld In 2018” (see link below). KBO will post news and updates of these actions and how to stay involved throughout the year through our Call Note blog and at eBird Northwest.
As Thomas Lovejoy, biologist and “godfather of biodiversity” once stated: “If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.”
CLICK HERE to visit National Geographic Society’s website Year of the Bird page.
CLICK HERE to visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website “6 Resolutions to Help You #BirdYourWorld in 2018” article.
Klamath Bird Observatory has announced several new position openings. We are currently recruiting for field technicians for the upcoming 2018 field season, citizen scientist volunteers for a new Short-eared Owl survey project, and a meeting facilitator to work with the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network. Links to the position announcements on KBO’s website are below—where you with find details about the positions and instructions on how to apply.
On behalf of the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network, KBO is seeking bids for a meeting facilitator to support strategic planning efforts—CLICK HERE to view this position announcement.
KBO is seeking to fill two Field Technician positions in our bird monitoring and research program at several riparian restoration sites along the Trinity, Salmon, and possibly Klamath rivers in northern California—CLICK HERE to view this position announcement.
KBO invites applications for four (4) Bird Banding Assistant Internship position openings—CLICK HERE to view this position announcement.
KBO seeks to fill a Field Technician position with primary responsibilities to manage our bird banding long-term monitoring project—CLICK HERE to view this position announcement.
KBO is seeking volunteers for a Short-eared Owl citizen science monitoring project—CLICK HERE to view this position announcement.
Klamath Bird Observatory is partnering with Intermountain Bird Observatory to launch the pilot year of the Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study (WAfLS) in Oregon. This citizen science project, now spanning eight western states, is designed to gather information to better evaluate the population status of the Short-eared Owl. The Oregon Conservation Strategy has identified the Short-eared Owl as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need and the National Audubon Society Climate Initiative has identified the species as Climate Endangered. This pilot survey is a critical starting point to fill information gaps for this species in Oregon. Results will directly influence high-value conservation actions by state and federal agencies. We are looking to recruit dedicated volunteers to help complete this state-wide survey.
WAfLS volunteers will enjoy rural Oregon at twilight while completing two road-based surveys during late winter and early spring. The surveys consist of driving on secondary roads, stopping at 8 to 11 points to complete a five-minute survey. At each point volunteers will record detections of Short-eared Owl as well as some brief habitat information. The entire survey is completed within 90 minutes. Training material will be provided and no experience is necessary to volunteer. Participants will need to follow field and data entry protocols, have use of a vehicle, smartphone or GPS device, and be able to identify a Short-eared Owl.
Help fill these information gaps by signing up for a survey!
The Romance and Wonder of the Sandhill Crane
The tallest bird in Oregon, the Sandhill Crane comes from an ancient lineage that may be among the earliest warm-blooded animals still found on earth. How do they live? We will explore the mechanics of their amazing trumpeting calls. We’ll discuss where they nest in Jackson County and other parts of the western U.S. and where you can see them in winter and early spring.
Harry Fuller is past president of the Klamath Bird Observatory, bird guide and author or several books on birds and the natural history of the San Francisco Bay. His books will be for sale at this talk.
To sign up, contact Shannon Rio at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541 840-4655. Cost is $15 and you can pay the night of the talk.
***News Release: December 12, 2017***
Contact: Sarah Rockwell, Research Biologist, Klamath Bird Observatory, 541-201-0866, smr@KlamathBird.org
Birds Teach Scientists How to Improve Streamside Restoration
Ashland, OR—Restoring river health in the western United States is important for addressing drought and water quality issues in support of restoring endangered salmon populations, but it is often challenging to understand how best to restore wildlife habitat along stream banks. A new study by a team of researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO), in partnership with the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP), sheds light on how best to understand the success of river restoration efforts: follow the birds.
Researchers studied a series of sites along the Trinity River in northern California for four years to figure out how best to restore vegetation along streambanks following river restoration. Creating new side channels and lowering the floodplain next to streams is good for fish spawning and rearing, but creating more salmon habitat sometimes requires a bulldozer. Removing lush, dense bank vegetation in the process may seem like bad news for birds, but the TRRP replants portions of the riverside with native trees and shrubs, and the birds come back. Still, it is important to monitor the newly created floodplains to ensure they are providing good habitat for wildlife – just in case this human assistance isn’t working the way we expect it to. The research team found that there are ways to plan river restoration and replant vegetation that encourage the birds to return, which can help improve restoration projects in the future.
To learn how birds respond to restoration, scientists studied four key bird species that are common in riverside habitats (Black-headed Grosbeak, Song Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Yellow Warbler) at a set of sites that have undergone restoration by the TRRP and a set of sites that were left as remnant mature forest. Birds are good indicators of healthy, functioning ecosystems, in part because they have a diverse range of habitat needs and respond quickly to changes in their environment. The authors compared vegetation on the recently restored sites to the remnant mature forest, and monitored which vegetation features were preferentially used by birds. Birds in the study overall chose to use areas with features of mature forest that were less abundant on new floodplains in the early stages of revegetation (planted just 3-10 years ago). Birds used the newly restored sites too, particularly the remnant patches of undisturbed habitat on those sites. Looking at where birds choose to raise their young reveals why: birds generally placed their territories and/or nests in areas with more canopy cover, taller trees, greater tree species diversity, and multiple layers of vegetation at different heights – all habitat features that may take decades to develop on restored areas. Knowing that these habitat features are important helps land managers recreate the best quality habitat for terrestrial wildlife and informs restoration planning. For example, future projects may benefit birds by leaving patches of mature vegetation within or near restoration sites whenever possible.
One result was unexpected. “We were really interested in the fact that Yellow-breasted Chats and Yellow Warblers frequently placed their territories or nests in areas with more Himalayan blackberry,” says Dr. Sarah Rockwell, KBO Research Biologist and lead author of the study. “Himalayan blackberry is a non-native, invasive shrub that land managers spend a lot of time and money removing – an important restoration practice – but the removal may have unintended consequences for birds.” She suggests that replanting with similarly structured native shrubs may be important in order to provide good nesting habitat for these birds following restoration.
Click here to view the abstract of Habitat selection of riparian birds at restoration sites along the Trinity River, California. Published in Restoration Ecology (Early View online) DOI: 10.1111/rec.12624.
Click here to download a zipped press package: News Release – Birds Teach Scientists
Click here to download a PDF of this news release: News Release – Birds Teach Scientists How to Improve Streamside Restoration
About Klamath Bird Observatory:
Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We achieve bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of birds native to our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. 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. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.KlamathBird.org.
About Trinity River Restoration Program:
Created by a Record of Decision from Congress in 2000, the TRRP is an inter-agency partnership (including National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, California Natural Resources Agency, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe, and Trinity County) with funding from Bureau of Reclamation appropriations, Central Valley Project Improvement Act funds, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds. Its creation was motivated by drastic declines in salmonid fish populations observed in the Trinity River since the installation of two dams in the early 1960s, which slowed and stabilized the river flow, causing changes in the shape of the river channel and hydrology that were detrimental to salmonids. The TRRP is tasked with returning salmon fisheries to pre-dam levels by restoring the river’s physical processes – through techniques such as watershed restoration, managed flows, channel rehabilitation including construction of floodplain habitat scaled to restoration flow levels, gravel augmentation, and addition of large woody debris. These efforts are managed by the Trinity Management Council Partners, and advised by the Trinity Adaptive Management Working Group and a Science Advisory Board. Visit TRRP at www.trrp.net.