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.
For a second year, the Rogue Valley Messenger has included Klamath Bird Observatory in their annual Give Guide — a listing of local nonprofits, each of which is doing important work to make the world of southern Oregon a better place. The Give Guide includes basic information about 17 different groups that the Messenger is encouraging our community to learn more about and give to!
KBO has also been invited to the Messenger’s annual Giving Tuesday event tonight (Tuesday, December 3) from 5 to 8 pm, at ScienceWorks in Ashland. As part of a larger national Giving Tuesday trend, this in-person meet, greet, and give event in the only one of its kind in southern Oregon. Come join us and our colleagues from other local non-profits to celebrate in-person the good work we are all doing.
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.
Klamath Bird Observatory continues to offer public visits to bird banding at our Upper Klamath Field Station near Fort Klamath in the Upper Klamath Lake area. The bird banding is scheduled on Thursday mornings through mid-October. Individual, family, and group visits can be arranged by emailing KBO’s Banding Program Coordinator Bob Frey (see below).
Nestled along Sevenmile Creek on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, this banding station has been operated each year during the nesting and fall migration seasons since 1997—one of the longest running bird monitoring sites in the region. In the fall, many songbird species migrate through the Klamath Basin and can be encountered here, especially large numbers of warblers and sparrows. The location is also a birding hotspot on the Klamath Basin Birding Trail.
And … KBO and Crater Lake National Park continue our bird ecology program series into the fall. These Ranger-led programs begin at the Park’s Steel Visitor Center and feature a visit to KBO’s banding station at the Park’s Munson Valley. These programs are scheduled on Friday mornings—please check the Crater Lake National Park series flyer below for upcoming dates and more details.
Don’t miss these opportunities to visit KBO’s biologists and the birds they are studying up close!
The programs are on Thursday mornings, but not every Thursday through August and Fridays in the fall—please check the Crater Lake National Park bird banding visit flyer below for scheduled dates
and information on how to register for these special events . Don’t miss this opportunity to visit KBO’s biologists in the field, see the birds they are studying up close, guided by an expert Park Ranger!
Crater Lake National Park and Klamath Bird Observatory are again presenting a bird ecology program series this summer and into the fall. The popular Park Ranger-led programs feature a visit to KBO’s bird monitoring station within Crater Lake National Park, bringing park visitors, park birds, and researchers all together.
KBO is also offering public visits to another of our bird monitoring stations located at our Upper Klamath Field Station near Fort Klamath by arrangement. Email Bob Frey for more information.
The study of natural areas can improve our understanding of plants and animals that occupy different habitats. Land managers need this kind of information for making decisions about how best to manage, restore, or protect their lands. However, it is not possible to measure each aspect of biodiversity. Studying one or several species to better understand the natural area as a whole is a common, but relatively understudied, practice. In the Pacific Northwest, Partners in Flight – a broad partnership aimed at conserving bird populations – has been using birds as focal species for nearly 20 years. The premise is that a suite of songbird species that are closely tied to key habitat features will represent many other bird species and other elements of biodiversity.
New research examines the focal species approach
Scientists from Klamath Bird Observatory and the Klamath Inventory and Monitoring Network of the National Park Service teamed up to think about how the focal species approach is being applied to six national parks in southern Oregon and northern California. Specifically, we examined whether the Partners in Flight focal species, which are derived from expert opinions and knowledge of birds and their habitats, did a good job at representing three additional management concerns: 1) vegetation, 2) other songbirds, and 3) more specifically, songbirds in decline. We then tested whether we could develop a focal species list from existing park-specific bird surveys that would do a better job at representing the other groups. The results were recently published in the scientific journal Ecological Applications in an article titled Established and Empirically Derived Landbird Focal Species Lists Correlate with Vegetation and Avian Metrics (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PUBLICATION).
Why does this matter?
If focal species do a good job at representing other groups of birds or vegetation, then the list can help land managers make better decisions about natural areas. Deciding which correlations are most important will depend on the management question at hand. For example, with vegetation management, if focal species are highly correlated with other songbirds and vegetation, managers can confidently apply their knowledge about the focal species to planning needs, such as developing a restoration strategy.
What have we learned?
Partners in Flight focal species represented three other components of biodiversity (all songbirds combined, songbirds in decline, and vegetation) in some, but not all, instances. We found that the Partners in Flight focal species did a good job of representing other songbirds at four of the six national parks. For all parks combined, the focal species developed from park-specific bird surveys improved correlation, showing the most notable improvement at Crater Lake National Park, where the existing focal species did not correlate strongly with the other groups. In contrast to the close association with songbirds generally, the Partners in Flight focal species lists represented songbirds in decline at only two of the parks. It is likely that species in decline have different habitat needs or experience different threats than the focal species.
Partners in Flight focal species lists are based on breeding season habitat needs, but food and habitat outside of the breeding season are also critically important for birds. For example, understanding how seasonal habitat and food needs relate to songbird health and ability to produce young, and how climate interacts with those, may inform conservation of declining species. Adding focal species that can represent limitations or threats outside of the breeding season may expand the use of this approach in the context of widespread bird population declines. Further, continued long-term monitoring in the parks is critical to understanding both whether local bird populations show similar dynamics as the same species at regional and national scales, and if so, the reasons why.