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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Join Vince Zauskey and Shannon Rio for a day of birding in the spectacular Scott Valley. We will likely see a variety of hawks, falcons, and sparrows. Lewis’s woodpeckers will be seen, possibly a shrike, and who knows what else!!
16 folks total so we can have 4 cars of 4 folks each. $25 each.
To sign up or for more information contact Shannon Rio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Golden-crowned, White-crowned, and Fox Sparrows arriving en mass from the north! Hermit Warblers and many other local nesting birds departing for their Tropical winter homes! And Sharp-shinned Hawks chasing them all through the forests! What a sensational dramatic story unfolding at our bird banding stations in these early days of the great annual bird fall migration! And you are invited to bear witness from a catbird seat with KBO’s biologists.
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—but there are just a few more opportunities this fall. The banding station is scheduled on most Thursday mornings through mid-October. Individual, family, and group visits can be arranged by emailing KBO’s Banding Program Coordinator Bob Frey (see below).
This banding station, along Sevenmile Creek on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, is 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 a reminder … Crater Lake National Park and KBO continue our bird ecology program series into the fall. These Park Ranger-led programs begin at the Park’s Steel Visitor Center and feature a visit to KBO’s banding station in nearby 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 experience the grand drama and visit KBO’s biologists and the birds they are studying up close!
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.