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Author: Caitlyn Gillespie

Geolocators used to link breeding and wintering populations of Prothonotary Warblers


November 13, 2015

Contact: Jared Wolfe

Prothonotary Warbler (c) Jim Livaudais 2015

ARCATA, Calif. — Prothonotary Warblers are stunningly beautiful and highly migratory birds closely tied to their preferred breeding habitat: swamps and other forested wetlands in the eastern United States. Scientists have noted that Prothonotary Warbler populations have experienced precipitous declines in recent years, prompting new research investigating the little known migratory behavior of this remarkable bird. As part of this effort, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Klamath Bird Observatory, Louisiana Bird Observatory, and Audubon Louisiana attached several geolocators—ultra-lightweight devices that record the time of sunrise and sunset each day—using a back-pack harness on several Prothonotary Warblers to identify their migratory routes and core wintering areas. The information collected by each geolocator was used to estimate the daily longitude and latitude of the bird.

“As part of this study, we deployed three geolocators on Prothonotary Warblers in Louisiana,” says Jared Wolfe, lead author and postdoctoral researcher with the Pacific Southwest Research Station and Klamath Bird Observatory. “After the breeding season, at least one individual completed its fall migration, over-wintered and made its way back to Louisiana where the bird was recaptured and the geolocator was retrieved.”

Data from the geolocator suggest that this bird traveled at least 5,000 miles through seven countries.

Researchers found that this Prothonatory Warbler’s migration pattern included an initial flight over the Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana into Central America, then east to the Greater Antilles for about one month, followed by a flight over the Caribbean Sea south to northwest Columbia where it remained for the duration of the winter. These findings contribute to a growing body of evidence that many migratory birds often use two or more wintering locations, or exhibit prolonged stopover behavior.

“Our results are the first to document movements of Prothonotary Warblers during their migratory and over-wintering periods,” says Erik Johnson, co-author of the study and director of bird conservation at Audubon Louisiana. “Based on the success of this study, we formed a coalition that includes researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Audubon South Carolina where we deployed an additional 47 geolocators on Prothonotary Warblers in 2014.”

By increasing the breadth of the study, the team of scientists hopes to better understand the migratory and over-wintering behavior of Prothonotary Warblers to identify core areas of habitat that may require additional protection for the species. This study also demonstrates that geolocators can be safely used to document migratory connectivity of species of conservation concern.

The findings of this study were published in the September 2015 issue of the Journal of Field Ornithology. To read or download the publication, go to

Click here for a PDF of this press release.

Click here for press packet with a PDF and a high resolution image.


Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon, is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. Headquartered in Albany, California., the Pacific Southwest Research Station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has research facilities in California, Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands.
This news release adapted from US Forest Service June 10, 2015 Press Release.

Free Publication Informs Oak Habitat Conservation on Private Lands


October 12, 2015

Contact: Jaime Stephens,, (541) 944-2890 or
John Alexander,, (541) 890-7076

Oak Guide on Private Lands Cover Image (72ppi 5x6)

A document authored by Klamath Bird Observatory and Lomakatsi Restoration Project provides guidance for private landowners interested in implementing oak habitat restoration on their land. The document, entitled Restoring Oak Habitats in Southern Oregon and Northern California: A Guide for Private Landowners, emerged from a collaborative project involving a suite of private and public conservation partners, including the Bureau of Land Management (Medford District), US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Klamath Basin Audubon Society, Oregon State University, American Bird Conservancy, and Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network.

Historically oaks were widespread throughout the valleys and foothills of Oregon and California. However, the arrival of Europeans to the region in the mid-1800s marked the beginning of a period of decline for oak habitats and their associated wildlife. Many oak woodlands were converted for agricultural uses or urban development, and decades of fire suppression during the latter half of the 20th century has allowed less fire-resistant yet faster growing tree species, such as Douglas-fir, to encroach upon and displace oaks. Now, the majority of remaining oak habitats occur on private lands. Private landowners are thus presented with an opportunity to restore healthy, wildlife-rich oak ecosystems to the landscape and thereby leave a valuable legacy for future generations.

The new landowner guide focuses on conservation practices for Oregon white oak and California black oak habitats. The document begins with an overview of the importance and history of oak habitats and then provides life history information for the oak species of the region. The guide next provides detailed oak restoration guidelines for achieving desired conditions in oak stands, such as diverse habitat structures, large oak trees, and the presence of snags, downed wood native shrubs and perennial grasses. The guide also includes supplemental resources for private landowners, including a list of organizations that will assist with private lands restoration as well as step-by-step instructions for monitoring birds to track the return of native wildlife following oak restoration activities.

This accessible, attractive, and informative guide is available for free download on the Klamath Bird Observatory website (click here). Funding for this project came from the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, a Toyota TogetherGreen grant managed by Klamath Basin Audubon Society, and the Rural Schools and Community Development Act.


Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon,  is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of 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, and we now apply this model more broadly to care for our shared birds throughout their annual cycles. 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.

Winter Talks and Walks

Bohemian Waxwing January 2013 (c) Frank Lospalluto
The Klamath Bird Observatory’s popular Talks and Walks series is back with new opportunities to expand your knowledge of birds seen throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. These Talks will be held on the first Thursday of the month at KBO’s headquarters: 320 Beach Street, Ashland, OR 97520 with the Walks followed on Saturday. To sign up, contact KBO board member Shannon Rio at and send participation fee of $25 to Shannon Rio at 610 Iowa Street Ashland, Oregon 97520. Space is limited so sign up soon!


  • Taught by Harry Fuller, KBO Board President.
  • Classroom session: Thursday, November 5th, 2015 6:30-8:00pm at KBO headquarters, Lincoln School.
  • Field trip: Saturday, November 7th, 2015 all day with time of departure to be announced at the talk.
  • In Jackson County some of our resident birds come down from the mountains, like Juncos, Wilsons Snipe, Hermit Thrush, Pacific Wrens and an occasional Townsend Solitaire. An influx of ducks and other birds arrive from colder climes. Some of our birds simply stay put but have to change their diet significantly. Phoebes do not find much call for fly-catching in a real winter. This class will explore our winter birds and see if we have some surprises due to climate change.
  • Space is limited to 15.


    • Taught by Dick Ashford, local hawk expert and KBO Board Emeritus
    • Classroom session: Thursday, Dec 3, 2015 6:30 – 8:30pm at KBO headquarters, Lincoln School
    • Field trip: Saturday Dec 5, 2015 8am til 5pm-ish; Butte Valley, the Klamath Basin and environs
  • This always-popular workshop returns for another year! During the classroom session, Dick will provide a straightforward introduction to the identification of our local hawks, eagles, and falcons. The goal? To prepare you to be successful (and have fun!) on the Saturday outing. Prerequisites: Fun people only – no whiners!
  • Space is limited to 14.
  • KBO’s Post-doctoral Fellow Awarded Young Professional Award


    Photo of Jared Wolfe

    Klamath Bird Observatory is proud to announce that Jared Wolfe, KBO’s Post-doctoral Fellow, was awarded the prestigious Cooper Ornithological Society’s 2015 Young Professional Award. The recognition was awarded to Jared based on his track record of producing meaningful science focused on the impacts of climate and habitat change on tropical and temperate birds. In addition to his science, Jared was recognized for his contributions to conservation and capacity building by co-founding the Louisiana Bird Observatory and teaching bird banding and statistical courses throughout Africa, and North, Central and South America. As the 2015 Young Professional Award recipient, Jared delivered a plenary address during the Cooper Ornithological Society’s and American Ornithologists Union’s 2015 meeting this past July. Jared’s plenary discussed his ongoing research into the ecological value of second growth and forest fragments for bird communities in Amazonian and Congolese forests where bird species within the same ecological guilds respond to habitat disturbance in similar ways irrespective of their evolutionary relatedness. In addition to his ongoing research in the tropics, Jared is currently working with KBO and the US Forest Service examining how bird communities on public lands in Oregon and California are responding to an increasingly volatile climate.

    To read the full announcement click here.

    Burns and Birds: What’s Left After Fire

    Landscape after the Quartz fire (c) KBO archives

    Jaime Stephens, Klamath Bird Observatory Science Director, was recently interviewed on the Jefferson Exchange. She shared results from a recently published study that found fire severity and the number of years post fire were both critical to unveiling potential benefits for birds. You can listen to the full Jefferson Exchange broadcast online by clicking here.  To learn more about this study an d the results found click here and read the full press release or view the full paper published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications.

    KBO Director interviewed for Rufous Hummingbird article featured in the Taos News

    Rufus Hummingbird (c) Jim Livaudais 2002

    Excepts from an interview with KBO Executive Director John Alexander were quoted in an article written by Meg Scherch Peterson and published in the Taos News. The article brings attention to the conservation challenges facing this miraculous migratory hummingbird.

    Alexander describes the Rufous Hummingbird as “an indicator of habitat features that are important for the hardwood understory of the forest.” He talks about the species’ population declines and its preferred breeding habitat that is often associated with wildfire.  In the article Alexander relates KBO science to post-wildfire management – “The science suggests we allow the forest to evolve naturally through successional stages. In the past, we’ve often bypassed these stages.”  Alexander expresses concerns about best available science not being used to inform management.

    Click here to read this Taos News article about Rufous Hummingbirds.

    KBO’s 2015 Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award Goes to Sandy Jilton


    June 1, 2015

    Contact: Marcella Rose Sciotto,, 541-201-0866

    Klamath Bird Observatory is proud to announce that Sandy Jilton is the first recipient of our new
    Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award.

    Sandy Jilton receiving award from KBO's Marcella Sciotto

    This award has been established to recognize individuals who demonstrate outstanding service as volunteers helping Klamath Bird Observatory fulfill its mission to advance bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Sandy Jilton is being recognized as the recipient of the Bullock’s Rose Oriole for her efforts to help make the Klamath Bird Observatory’s 2nd annual Mountain Bird Festival a success.

    The Mountain Bird Festival is a community education event designed to foster the stewardship ethic needed to ensure thriving landscapes for humans and wildlife. This Festival represents a significant volunteer effort with nearly 50 community members chipping in over 1,200 volunteer hours to help put the event on. These volunteers help Klamath Bird Observatory staff with field trips, registration, vendors, planning, and much more.

    Klamath Bird Observatory recognizes Sandy Jilton with the first Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award

    for her volunteer work that was essential to the success of this year’s Festival. Sandy worked tirelessly

    to coordinate our food and drink vendors. She spent hours to find the right vendors who best

    represented our region’s food and beverage culture. She then worked with them to ensure their

    participation benefitted their businesses while also helping us to meet the conservation oriented goals

    of the Festival. In addition to this core aspect of her volunteer role, Sandy was always eager to help out

    in any way that she could. Her endless enthusiasm, good cheer, and skillful execution made her a

    delight to work with.

    Over the past two years bird enthusiasts from all over the U.S. have flocked to Ashland, Oregon for

    Klamath Bird Observatory’s award winning Mountain Bird Festival. The Festival is designed to raise funds

    for bird conservation while celebrating the role citizens play in conservation as well as the glory of the

    birds and wildlife of southern Oregon and northern California. The Festival offers more than 35 field

    trips that explore portions of the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains, as well as the Klamath Basin, Shasta

    Valley, the Klamath River, the Rogue watershed, and birding hotspots in and around Ashland and

    Medford. Each year, more than 120 participants, many of which traveling from out of the area, come to

    see some of southern Oregon’s unique bird species, and to contribute to bird conservation. In addition

    to these contributions, participants spend an estimated $70,000 on lodging, meals, entertainment, and

    more, demonstrating that birding means business and that the Mountain Bird Festival offers significant

    economic benefits to our region.

    By name, Klamath Bird Observatory’s new Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award honors Stephanie

    Bullock, the Festival’s 1st Volunteer Coordinator, and Marcella Rose Sciotto, the Mountain Bird Festival

    Coordinator, who has made this Festival a successful volunteer-driven event.

    Click here to read Talent’s News & Review profile and article on Sandy and her accomplishments.



    Calling All Shorebird Enthusiasts and Citizen Scientists!

    Black-bellied Plover (c) Jim Livaudais

    The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey (PFSS) is looking for citizen science volunteers to conduct shorebird surveys in Coos Bay, Oregon on January 8th 2015 and we need your help!

    The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey is a multi-partner project, led by Point Blue Conservation Science; the survey depends on citizen science effort to help protect shorebirds and wetlands all the way from Canada to Mexico. This year Klamath Bird Observatory is assisting with the coordination of surveys at Coos Bay, Oregon.

    Time Commitment: ~1-2 days:

    Training: Watching a training webinar on December 4th from 1:00pm-3:30pm to review the protocol and counting techniques

    Scouting: Become familiar with your site; make sure you know the access points and how long it will take to cover the area. Scouting takes place Wednesday, January 7th.

    Survey: January 8th.

    The best candidates for the project will:

    • Be confident with their shorebird identification
    • Have their own binoculars and scope (some scopes are available to borrow if needed) and possess reliable transportation
    • Be physically able to walk long-distances carrying a scope and tripod in muddy and often inclement conditions
    • Be willing to follow a protocol to count birds
    • Be comfortable entering data online into California Avian Data Center
    • Have a passion for and dedication to shorebird conservation

    For more information about PFSS please visit

    If you would like to participate or have any questions please contact Ellie Armstrong, at  as soon as possible. Thanks for all you do!



    Bird Bio: Acorn Woodpecker

    Bird Bio: Acorn WoodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker
    By Ellie Armstrong, KBO Research and Monitoring Intern

    The Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) is common year-round in oak woodlands near the West Coast. Oregon was believed to hold the most northerly population of this species until a colony was discovered in Washington in 1989. Considered clown-faced in appearance, the Acorn Woodpecker’s distinctive “waka-waka” call can often be heard whenever oak trees are near. Male and females look similar, although males can be distinguished by the presence of more red on the top of their heads.

    There are several morphological adaptations shared by woodpeckers. One of these is the zygodactyl foot. While many birds have three toespointing forward and one backwards on each foot, woodpeckers have two toes pointing forwards and two pointing backwards; this arrangement allows woodpeckers to cling securely to the sides of trees. They also have extremely long, sticky, and barbed tongues that help them probe crevices and collect insects. Their tongues wrap completely around their skulls and can extend out as far as 5 inches. To accommodate a lifestyle of drumming on wood, the bone at the base of their bill is porous and acts as a shock absorber.

    Acorn Woodpeckers are communal breeders, a characteristic shared by only three percent of all bird species. Up to as many as 15 individuals from multiple generations will live together in an established territory. Only some of these individuals breed, while others help raise the young. The number of breeding individuals varies, but usually consists of one or two females and up to four males per female. An Acorn Woodpecker group will excavate several large cavities in dead or live trees; one cavity is typically used for the nest and the remaining cavities are used for roosting.

    Acorns and insects comprise the bulk of the Acorn Woodpecker diet. The woodpeckers collect acorns during autumn and winter and store them in dead trees and telephone poles and other manmade structures, including the siding of houses. These acorn storage sites are called granaries, and one granary may contain as many as 50,000 acorns. All of the woodpeckers that live in a community are responsible for collecting and storing acorns. Old granaries are used year after year, but new ones are made as well.

    This article appears in KBO’s 2013 Winter Newsletter.



    Ehrlich, Paul, David Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye. The Birder’s Hnadbook. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1988. 283-285. Koenig, Walter, Peter Stacey, Mark Stanback, and Ronald Mumme. “Acorn Woodpecker.” Birds of North America. 194. (1995)

    Marshall, David B. et al, eds. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003.;

    Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. New York : Alfred A Knopf, Inc. , 2001.

    Bird Bio: Black Phoebe

    By: Teresa “Bird” Wicks, KBO Education Intern

    Black Phoebe © Jim LivaudaisThe Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) is the only black and white flycatcher found in North America. Thus, they are easily distinguished by their mostly black body and white belly. Eastern Kingbirds and Eastern Phoebes, similarly, are dark above and pale below, but are generally grayer and also have a pale throat and breast. Additionally, the range of the Black Phoebe barely overlaps the ranges of these two species. The range of the Say’s Phoebe, however, does overlap that of the Black Phoebe, but the gray-brown upper parts and rust-colored belly of the Say’s Phoebe make it difficult to mistake for a Black Phoebe. When Black Phoebes are perched they are often seen “wagging” their tails, a characteristic shared by both the Say’s and Eastern Phoebes.

    The Black Phoebe’s range extends north from western South America through most of Central America and Mexico, and into the United States. In the United States, they are predominantly found in the southwestern states, historically breeding and wintering along western California into the Rogue Valley in Oregon. In the late 20th century, the Black Phoebe’s range expanded north to Curry County, where they are now considered year-round residents, and Coos County, where winter sightings are becoming more common. Due to their ability to cohabitate with humans, the Black Phoebe’s range continues to expand in Oregon, with irregular reports in the Umpqua and Willamette Valleys.

    As with other flycatchers, Black Phoebes are primarily insectivorous. They feed by sallying from their perch and catching airborne insects, or by gleaning insects from plants. Small insects are consumed on the wing, while larger insects are carried back to a perch where they can be killed and then consumed. Occasionally, Black Phoebes will dive into the water to capture minnows and other small fish!

    Black Phoebes are most often found along streams, ponds and marshes, typically perched on the lower branches of riparian trees or low-lying manmade structures. When it comes to nesting, male Black Phoebes hover near potential nest sites whereas females choose the final site and construct the nest. Their open-cup nests, made of mud and vegetation, are cemented to cliff faces, bridges, and other manmade structures, and resemble Barn Swallow nests.

    This article appears in the Winter/Spring 2013 Newsletter. 

    Sources: Marshall, D.B., M.G. Hunter, and A.L. Contreras, Eds. 2003. Birds of Oregon: A General Reference. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR. 768 Pp.; Wolf, B.O. 1997. Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans). In The Birds of North America, No. 268 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.
    The Black Phoebe is a nearly all black bird with a white belly. Photo © Jim Livaudais 2013.