While we miss being in the field with all of our partners, this year KBO is honoring our long-standing WMBD connections in this new virtual way. Here, our staff share highlights from our work to meet Partners in Flight and North American Bird Conservation Initiative conservation priorities. Please, have a safe and healthy World Migratory Bird Day.
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. WMBD is global in reach and serves as an effective way to help raise awareness about the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. This year’s WMBD theme is “birds connect our world” and Klamath Bird Observatory proudly embodies this concept of connection.
KBO has participated in WMBD for decades. We often participate in multiple WMBD events across the Klamath Siskiyou Bioregion in a single day. We have collaborated with the City of Ashland’s North Mountain Park, Rogue Valley Audubon Society, and others at many annual Rogue Valley Bird Day events in Ashland, Oregon. Partnering in the Klamath Basin we have collaborated with Klamath Basin Audubon Society, Klamath Wingwatchers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and others at WMBD events in Klamath Falls, Oregon and at the Klamath Basin Refuge Complex headquarters in Tulelake, California. We have also teamed up with Klamath National Forest and Mt. Shasta Area Audubon for many WMBD field trips on the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Shasta Valley Wildlife Area.
While we will miss being in the field with all of these partners, this year KBO will honor these long-standing connections and our commitment to WMBD in a new way. On Friday afternoon, May 8, 2019, we will release a virtual presentation about how KBO is maintaining our momentum, undeterred by COVID-19. Our staff will share highlights from their work to meet the national and international bird conservation priorities of Partners in Flight and North American Bird Conservation Initiative.
We hope you will join us to celebrate WMBD, and experience a few of the many ways that “birds connect our world” through ongoing conservation-science efforts. Our virtual WMBD event will be made available on the Klamath Call Note Blog and on our Face Book Page starting at 5:00 pm this Friday. Also, please see what our other partners are doing to safely and creatively celebrate World Migratory Bird Day and the birds that connect us all.
Staying resilient, adaptive, and strong for bird conservation: Klamath Bird Observatory responds to the Covid crisis
We hope that this message finds you, our community, in good health and in safe places during this unprecedented time of Covid-19. We are happy to report that we remain safe and healthy, and will continue to operate in the midst of this pandemic. We have been working diligently with our staff, Board of Directors, and partners to:
- Maintain staff, partner, supporter, and community safety;
- Meet KBO and partner conservation science priorities; and
- Remain innovative and adaptive in our science-driven approach to bird and habitat conservation.
Safety is at the heart of our operations, and the safety of our crew members, staff, partners, local community, and the rural communities where we work drives our decision making. With safety in mind, and in support of the larger scientific community and science-based recommendations for “flattening the curve,” we have made the very hard decision to cancel the vast majority of KBO’s field studies in 2020.
Our field work requires travel; field crew members come to us from around the U.S. and beyond, and normal field operations require that crews travel throughout Oregon and northern California. Continuing the field season would be at odds with current “Stay at Home” guidelines that are in place in Oregon and California (and many other regions). In addition, it is our responsibility to avoid endangering rural communities where we conduct our field work. Specifically, to not increase use of limited resources in small communities (such as gas stations and general stores), risk transporting the virus to areas where it is not yet prevalent, or risk needing to call on limited emergency services to assist us if an injury or other emergency were to occur.
Based on the current scientific projections for the pandemic and the needs of all citizens, we do not anticipate returning to “business as usual” this month. This limits the time available to ensure our field crews are well trained and well prepared to keep birds and themselves safe, and to do the excellent field biology that makes KBO stand out. While disappointing, we are confident that scaling back our field projects is the right decision. We look forward to returning to our ongoing field studies in spring of 2021, invigorated and eager to complete a productive season.
Field work comprises a large part of our spring and summer operations at KBO; however, our full time staff is taking advantage of this time out of the field to drive conservation planning and action by coordinating long-term monitoring, theoretical research, and applied ecology. Our current projects include:
- Maintaining core field studies that are both time dependent and possible to implement while following state recommendations for social distancing and limiting travel,
- Publishing results from our science,
- Revising conservation plans to keep them up to date and usable by partners,
- Advancing Motus technology that enhances our ability to track bird migrations,
- Informing land management locally and throughout the Pacific Northwest,
- Standing at the forefront of making bird data available to scientists and land managers,
- Contributing to a game-changing response to the loss of 3 billion birds since 1970, and
- Celebrating the 30-year anniversary of Partners in Flight.
We sincerely appreciate, and still need your support! You, our KBO community, have been on our mind. As we have been focused on ensuring KBO’s sustainability in this uncertain time, we have also been thinking about and working on new and innovative strategies for staying connected with and inspiring our audience.
May 9th is World Migratory Bird Day, and this year the theme of this global celebration is “Birds Connect Our World.” Given this time of uncertainty and isolation the underlying meaning of this core message seems incredibly profound. We are therefore actively planning creative new ways to connect us all through our love of birds. We will start next Saturday with an online celebration of World Migratory Bird Day and our future in bird conservation. So please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay tuned!
Thursday, January 23, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m
Grape Street Bar and Grill, 31 South Grape Street, Medford
Come discover a glimpse of the natural history of our region. The focus will be Wings—critters that fly, pollinate, and twirl in the air. Topics include Bats with Wildlife Biologist Tony Kerwin; Dragonflies with local Naturalist and Dragonfly Expert Norm Barrett; Vesper Sparrows with Klamath Bird Observatory’s Research Biologist, Dr. Sarah Rockwell; and Bumble Bees with Naturalist and Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s Stewardship Director, Kristi Mergenthaler.
Arrive early to secure a seat and to order food or drinks. This is an all-ages free community event.
For more information call (541) 482-3069.
Attention Oregon birders, I am pleased to announce a great community science opportunity in Oregon! Klamath Bird Observatory is partnering with Intermountain Bird Observatory to carry out the Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study (WAfLS). This community science project, now spanning eight western states, is designed to gather information to better evaluate the population status of the Short-eared Owl. Traditional survey data have indicated that Short-eared Owl populations have declined by more than 60% in the last 40 years. 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 survey is a critical step to filling 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 a set of dedicated volunteers to help complete this state-wide survey.
See past survey results here.
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!
For any questions please contact Nate Trimble at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Nicholas Kronick
Named after the abundance of camas lilies dotting the meadow blue through the long days of June, Lily Glen offers a fine sight that comes alive in the summer. This May-July, my field partner and I spent our days here with the purpose of locating and monitoring the nests of a local population of Oregon Vesper Sparrows. Our goal was to collect data on nest success for a range-wide study attempting to determine causes of declines in this at-risk subspecies unique to the Pacific Northwest. Tracking these birds took more patience than I had ever imagined, and we made slow progress finding the nests one by one. And I swear, the Vesper Sparrow is a particularly fickle little bird who is unsurpassed in misleading humans in the whereabouts of their nests!
Each day would start before dawn with a quick breakfast and lots of coffee to keep us attentive during the cold, slow mornings. The meadow was broken up into four general sections that Jen (the other field technician), sometimes Sarah (KBO staff biologist), and I would rotate through, following leads from previous attempts. Male Vesper Sparrows were quite consistent in their behavior, singing in their territory all morning and foraging on the ground with their female companion. Females were also fairly consistent in their behavior, which mostly consisted of foraging with or without their male companions, and hiding from us, nowhere to be found. We would crouch, sit, lay down, stand, roll, and crawl to try to keep the birds visible in the dense grass while remaining far enough away for them to go about their business.
Most nests this year were found by food carries to the nestlings. Both the male and female assist with this duty once the eggs have hatched, and the nestlings grow rapidly until they leave the nest around ten days later. A handful of nests were found by following a female who was observed carrying nesting material repeatedly to a general location. This method, although common with other birds when locating nests, was particularly difficult with our Vespers as they like to land on the ground some meters away from the nest and then walk or run the remaining distance undetected through thick grass. Additionally, we had a few “luck” finds, in which a nest was found by unintentionally flushing a female off the nest while walking through the meadow.
The most rewarding part of this job was after weeks of following the progress of a nest from creation to egg laying to hatching to fledging, seeing a little family of Vesper Sparrows exploring new lengths of the meadow together, learning the ropes of being a bird in the free world. Really, when it comes down to it, being a nest searcher means simply not giving up. There were many days when I, the least experienced of the field crew, after a half hour or so of attentively watching a female would give up and think “she’s not doing anything but eating.” Yet as Sarah would always remind me, you just need to be patient and wait for the birds to give you a clue. Our Vesper Sparrows have now all migrated south to spend the winter across pasture lands full of seeds and ground spared by snow. I know that we are all excited to see their return to Lily Glen next spring – and with the identifying color bands applied to dozens of individuals over the past two seasons, it will be a pleasure to see which birds return for another spring in the mountain meadows outside of Ashland.
Editor’s note: The Oregon Vesper Sparrow population is estimated to be <3,000 individuals. Along with researchers in the Willamette and Umpqua Valleys, OR, and the Puget Lowlands, WA, we are studying their nest success, survival rates, and habitat associations. Our goal is to find out how to target conservation actions to halt and reverse their population decline. The 2019 field season was supported by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Charlotte Martin, and the Management Studies Support Program for National Conservation Lands.
TALK: BIRDING THE KLAMATH BASIN
Thursday, November 14th 6:00pm – 7:30pm at Lincoln School, 320 Beach Street, Ashland, Oregon 97520
Using photography and history of the land and the birds, visit one of the most amazing Wildlife Refuges here in our backyard via a powerpoint presentation. The Lower Klamath Lake part of this refuge was established in 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt. This is the first refuge protected specifically for migratory birds. This presentation is an invitation to visit the Refuge and will give information on how to get there and what glory you might expect to see. Refuge brochures will be available.
KLAMATH WILDLIFE REFUGE FIELD TRIP WITH RANGER STEVE ROOKER AND SHANNON RIO
Two separate days have been selected to have a 3 hour tour from a Fish and Wildlife guide. He will take us in his 9 person van to see the beauty and learn info about wetlands.
Dates will be Wednesday November 20th or Wednesday November 27th from 9:30am – 5:00pm. It takes 2 hours to safely drive to the Tule Lake Headquarters where the tour starts at 9:30am and ends at 12:30pm. After the tour, we will bird some of the Refuge til 3:00pm and then arrive home around 5:00pm. Bring a Lunch!
FEE FOR THE LECTURE IS OPTIONAL DONATION TO KBO. FEE FOR THE OUTING IS $30. CONTACT SHANNON RIO AT email@example.com TO ATTEND EITHER OR BOTH.
Data show that since 1970, the U.S. and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion birds, a massive reduction in abundance involving hundreds of species, from beloved backyard songbirds to long-distance migrants.
Learn more about what you can do at www.3BillionBirds.org
Today our colleagues published a study in the journal Science revealing that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent, or almost 3 billion birds, signaling a widespread ecological crisis. The results show tremendous losses across diverse groups of birds and habitats — from iconic songsters such as meadowlarks to long-distance migrants such as swallows and backyard birds including sparrows. The study notes that birds are indicators of environmental health, signaling that natural systems across the U.S. and Canada are now being so severely impacted by human activities that they no longer support the same robust wildlife populations.
The authors emphasize that “The story is not over. There are so many ways to help save birds!” Their study documents promising rebounds resulting from galvanized human efforts including the recovery of waterfowl over the past 50 years and the spectacular comebacks that raptors, such as the Bald Eagle, have also made since the 1970s. Birds are telling us we must act now to ensure our planet can sustain wildlife and people and there are things we can all do to help make a bird-friendly planet.
To learn more about this paper see the complete press release at eBird Northwest.
Images Courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Jaime Stephens, Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO) Science Director, will be presenting at the September 10th Klamath Basin Audubon Society meeting. The presentation will include an overview of KBO’s long-term monitoring and applied ecology research. It will focus on current projects occurring in the Klamath Basin within the context of broader bird conservation. An overview of long-term monitoring will include KBO’s bird banding program, monitoring in the National Parks, and a new long-term monitoring program initiated this spring in shrub-steppe habitats. The presentation will also highlight species-specific studies examining Vesper Sparrow, Black-backed Woodpecker, Common Nighthawk, and Hermit Warbler. The Hermit Warbler research is a partnership with Oregon State University which aims to better understand migratory connectivity for this species, to elucidate potential causal factors in population trends and inform conservation actions. The Klamath Basin was one of nine study sites where Hermit Warblers were tagged with geolocators in spring of 2019. This project aligns closely with the KBO-led Western Warblers Initiative, which seeks to apply the latest technology (Motus) in expanding our knowledge of migratory movements and connectivity for warblers; research will begin on Hermit, Wilson’s, and Black-throated Gray warblers in spring of 2020. The presentation will include time for questions and discussion about these projects and broader bird conservation initiatives.
This content was originally published in The Grebe, the newsletter of the Klamath Basin Audubon Society.
John Alexander, Executive Director, speaks with the Rogue Valley Messenger about Klamath Bird Observatory’s conservation science, education, and birding. FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW CLICK HERE.