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Author: Elva Manquera

Support KBO this World Migratory Bird Day

We are thrilled to be out in the community today bringing people together in support of bird conservation. Spreading awareness of this year’s message about protecting birds and protecting insects. Birds play crucial roles in pollination and pest control, and a lack of insects disrupts these ecosystem functions. Overpopulation of certain insects, without natural predators from birds, can also cause outbreaks that damage plant health and agriculture.

You can help us by donating to KBO this World Migratory Bird Day. Your donation supports not only our community outreach but also our high-caliber science. There are several different ways that you can donate to KBO.

Something New! The 2023-24 conservation science stamp art designed by Jasmine Vazquez is too beautiful not to put on a t-shirt. You can purchase your new KBO shirt here. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes.

The t-shirt highlights last year’s WMBD theme and focuses on Water: Sustaining Bird Life. Migratory birds rely on water and its associated habitats—lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, marshes, and coastal wetlands—for breeding, resting, refueling during migration, and wintering. Yet increasing human demand for water, climate change, pollution, and other factors threaten these precious aquatic ecosystems. Headlines worldwide are sounding alarm: 35 percent of the world’s wetlands, critical to migratory birds, have been lost in the last 50 years. In Southern Oregon, we have seen drought and fire and the negative impacts these have had on birds associated with water.

 

2023 Banding crew standing in front of the 7-mile banding station.

Support the Avian Internship Memorial Fund. The Avian Internship Memorial Fund (AIM Fund), was started by the friends and family of longtime KBO partner Patricia Buettner (Patty). The AIM Fund helps support KBO’s long-running internship programs. Klamath Bird Observatory’s internship program offers a positive learning experience for students. Our interns also make considerable contributions that help the international bird conservation community advance bird and habitat conservation.

 

Thank you for your continued support!

Field Trip to Klamath and Tule Refuge

Sunday, May 19th, 8 am-6 pm

Spend the day exploring the wonder of the Klamath Basin and see what migratory and resident birds are there.  Emphasis is on observing spring behaviors such as mating and perhaps nest building.

The caravan will be 4 cars.  The day will combine driving, viewing from the “blind” of the car, and also visiting the new visitors center.  Bring food and liquids, bino’s, and curiosity.

The leader is Shannon Rio. 

Two Days of World Migratory Bird Day

KBO is excited to be at not one but two World Migratory Bird Day events this year. We will be at Rogue Valley Bird Day this Saturday, May 11th, 8 am – 12 pm at North Mountain Park in Ashland. The day will be chock-full of activities to participate in, with organizers offering bird walks every 15 to 30 minutes from the nature center pavilion; adult’s and children’s binoculars will be available for loan. Check out an article in the Rogue Valley Times about this weekend’s event or visit the Rogue Valley Bird Day website.

The second World Migratory Bird Day event is on May 18th, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Veterans Park, in Klamath Falls. See you there!

World Migratory Bird Day is a global campaign that educates and promotes conservation efforts for migratory birds and their journeys across borders. It raises awareness about the challenges birds face and encourages conservation actions worldwide. This year, the focus is on the importance of insects for migratory birds. Present in almost all the world’s ecosystems, insects are essential food sources for migratory birds on their long journeys. Migratory birds often time their migrations to align with insect abundance. They depend on these insects for food during migration stops and for breeding success and feeding their young.

The stark reality uncovered over recent years is that insect populations are declining, correlating with a decline in bird species reliant on insects for survival. An analysis in the journal Science revealed that we are losing roughly 9% of the world’s insect population each decade. Deforestation, industrial agriculture, the overuse of pesticides, light pollution, and climate change are major factors driving this trend. (Reuters) Additionally, the United States and Canada have observed avian population declines, with a significant 29% drop in bird populations since 1970, equating to around 2.9 billion fewer birds.

Some examples of actions being encouraged through the campaign include:

  • Planting native gardens to create suitable habitats for wildlife
  • Selecting organic products, thereby avoiding harmful pesticides
  • Reducing habitat destruction linked to property development or landscaping practice
  • Educating friends and family about the role insects play in our ecosystem
  • Supporting educational efforts aimed at insect conservation, including promoting their conservation at the community level
  • Creating laws and regulations to protect insects and migratory birds
  • Encouraging local conservation activities to maintain natural habitats for insects, birds, and other wildlife

Avian Project Manager Full-Time

The Avian Project Manager will provide organizational support for KBO’s science and conservation programs. These programs are built upon ongoing research, monitoring, and science delivery to address fundamental questions and opportunities in the ecology and conservation of birds; principally within the Pacific Northwest but including international collaborations throughout the Nearctic and Neotropical ecoregions. They will manage conservation-relevant science, including long-term monitoring, applied ecology studies, conservation delivery, and species-specific full annual cycle research. Primary job duties include the administrative management of research and conservation projects through working with partner agencies and KBO’s scientific staff to further KBO’s goals of providing robust science and conservation through a focus on avian ecology.

The position includes grant writing and management, collaborating on study design, building, and managing partnerships, coordination and support in hiring seasonal staff, support of research and science delivery, and community and scientific presentations. Grant management, contract acquisition, permit acquisition, management, and reporting, and partnership building and management are essential job duties. This position may also include personnel management, field research, statistical analyses, coordination and upkeep of field stations, equipment and fleet management, and project development. This position will serve on KBO’s administrative committee.


Salary: $55,000-$56,000 plus a 15% cash benefit (in lieu of health/retirement benefits)
Location: Ashland, Oregon
Application: Send a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and 3 professional references to Ryan Terrill at rst@klamathbird.org
Application Deadline: Review of applications will begin June 1 and continue until filled


Job Duties (to include, but not limited to):

  • Manage partner relationships including federal, nonprofit, and international organizations and researchers
  • Manage grants and contracts, including permitting, reporting, tracking, and deliverables
  • Work with the Science Director and Administrator to ensure contracts are fulfilled in a thorough and timely manner
  • Field station and vehicle management
  • Coordinate/facilitate the hiring of seasonal staff
  • Provide administrative support for Research Biologists, Biologists, and Field Technicians
  • Lead or contribute to field methodology training as needed (e.g. point counts, spot-map, nest search, banding, tagging, vegetation surveys)
  • Availability to respond to occasional, unexpected needs and emerging issues during the field season (mid-April to mid-October), including evenings and weekends
  • Assist in the implementation of long-term monitoring, effectiveness monitoring, and theoretical research
  • Assist in outreach, DEIJ, and education projects/priorities
  • Contribute to securing programmatic funding, including grant writing and contract acquisition
  • Collaborate with the Science Director to set annual program-specific goals and objectives and develop and manage program budgets and staff workplans
  • Work with the Communications Specialist to integrate scientific findings into education and outreach materials and engage in community outreach activities
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through continuous development, modeling of inclusive behaviors, and proactive management of bias
  • Provide organizational support for training workshops hosted by KBO

Qualifications:

  • Combination of education and/or experience equivalent to an MS in the Natural Sciences or Ornithology and an additional eight years of relevant experience
  • Knowledge of concepts in applied ecology and conservation
  • Experience in program management contract management and implementation
  • Experience with conservation partnerships
  • Sound decision-making skills and ability to work with minimal oversight
  • Experience in personnel management and supervision
  • Demonstrated organizational skills and ability to meet deadlines
  • Strong attention to detail in writing, copyediting, proofreading, and product development
  • Ability to develop, implement, track, and manage a budget at the divisional level
  • Successful track record of grant writing or management including foundation, federal, and other funding sources
  • Demonstrated skills in partner development
  • Excellent scientific writing skills; experience with reports and manuscripts
  • Excellent popular writing skills; experience with social media, web, blogs, and communications
  • Notable experience and high comfort level with public speaking in field, community, and professional settings
  • Ability to represent KBO’s non-advocacy approach of conservation-relevant science to partners and the public, and within professional networks
  • Must provide and maintain reliable transportation, driver’s license, and meet minimum driving record and insurance requirements
  • Regular travel across the Pacific Northwest as needed for project development and maintenance

Avian Project Manager Fill Job Description

Cover Photo: Western Tanager by Frank Lospalluto

“Observing KBO”: Elva Manquera-DeShields

“Observing KBO” is intended to be an ongoing, occasional feature of this KBO news-feed. It will include not only profiles of individual members of KBO staff, but also background stories “from the field” that otherwise might not appear in print.

“Observing KBO”: Elva Manquera

(The KBO Observer met with Elva Manquera-DeShields at a noisy Ashland coffee house. We enjoyed our conversation amid the din.)

It’s readily evident to the KBO Observer that Elva is bright, thoughtful, upbeat, and genuine. With these and other qualities, Elva plays a key role at Klamath Bird Observatory. She wears a number of hats as KBO’s Science-Communication, Outreach, and DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice) Program Manager. Maintaining KBO’s website, making regular social-media contacts, as well as managing (and writing for) KBO’s Newsfeed — which you are currently reading — are among her ongoing tasks.

Elva Manquera-DeShields, at Ashland Roasting Company

You may have seen Elva “tabling” for KBO outside of the Ashland Co-op or the Medford Co-op, as well as at Earth Day, the K-S Wild Film Festival, Rogue Valley Bird Day, and many other events. Elva enjoys her regular outreach opportunities to introduce people to the wonderful world of birding. She created KBO’s “Conmigo” (“with me” in Spanish) program, to help understand and overcome barriers for marginalized groups to connect with birds. Likewise, she regularly visits various schools, including her work with students at Central Point High School’s disabilities program. Thus, for a lot of people, Elva is the public “face” of Klamath Bird Observatory.

Elva, who is 32 years old, is a native of southern Oregon (born in Roseburg). Her late father immigrated to the States from Chihuahua, Mexico, at first working as a tree planter, then in a sawmill and marrying Elva’s mother, who worked at the Riddle nickel mine. Growing up in the rural community of Riddle, after high school, she went to Oregon State University (OSU), graduating with a major in zoology and a minor in fish and wildlife. During summer while at OSU she worked at a salmon cannery in Dillingham, Alaska, where a common sight was the group of hungry grizzly bears that came to the adjacent beach to feast on fish. Elva then moved with her husband, Joey, to Pullman, Washington, so that he could study plant pathology at Washington State University. In 2018 they came to the Rogue Valley, where Elva earned a master’s degree in environmental education from Southern Oregon University. They feel lucky that both of them have found jobs that meet their passions. (Joey has a position at OSU’s Research and Extension Experimental Station on Hanley Road.)

Starting out as a KBO intern during her master’s studies, Elva has been on permanent staff since 2021, making herself indispensable by serving with Klamath Bird Observatory’s Board members on the Community Education, Fundraising, and DEIJ committees. “I see myself as bridging the gap between the community and KBO’s scientific research,” says Elva. “I feel so fortunate that I can bring my full self, as a woman of color, to help people and birds.” When asked her favorite bird species, Elva identified the acorn woodpecker. She loves hearing their raucous, laughing calls and observing their busy sociability among the trees.

Happy birding! The KBO Observer

Release of the Spanish Pyle Guide

Klamath Bird Observatory and The Institute for Bird Populations are excited to announce the release of the first half of The Identification Guide to North American Birds or Pyle Guide in Spanish. Making this hugely informative book more accessible to bird banders throughout North America. The Pyle Guide has been known as the bird banding bible. It sits on every bander’s table with marked pages and a worn spine. Join us for an evening Zoom presentation with the guide author,  Peter Pyle, and the guide translator, Rafael Rueda Hernández. They will discuss what is new in version 2.0 and the journey to translate this huge and hugely important guide. The Zoom presentation will be on April 4th at 5:30 pm PST. The book will be available for pre-order starting on April 4th. The presentation is free, and an English/Spanish translator will be available.

El Observatorio de Aves de Klamath (Klamath Bird Observatory) y el Instituto para Poblaciones de Aves (Institute for Bird Populations) se complacen en anunciar el lanzamiento de la primera parte de La Guía de identificación de aves de América del Norte o Guía Pyle en español. La versión en español hará que sea más accesible para los anilladores de aves de toda América del Norte. La Guía Pyle ha sido conocida como la biblia del anillamiento de aves, se encuentra en la mesa de cada anillador con páginas marcadas y el lomo desgastado por el uso. Acompáñenos en la presentación por Zoom con el autor de la guía, Dr. Peter Pyle, y el traductor de la guía, Dr. Rafael Rueda Hernández. Se discutirán las novedades de esta versión y el camino para traducir esta enorme e importante guía. La presentación por Zoom será el 4 de abril a las 5:30 p.m. PST. El libro estará disponible para pedidos anticipados a partir del 4 de abril. La presentación es gratuita y habrá un traductor inglés/español disponible.

 


 

Upper Rogue Oak Initiative in the Rogue Valley Times

Conifers encroach on an oak tree at Cascade Ranch near Lake Creek east of White City at a site slated for restoration as part of a project known as the Upper Rogue Oak Initiative. Several agencies and organizations are collaborating on a six-year, $13 million project to thin conifers and take other action to aid oak habitat and improve ecosystem health while reducing wildfire risk. Lomakatsi Restoration Project

On February 23rd, Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network was featured in the Rogue Valley Times. You can view the original article written by Shaun Hall here.

$13-million initiative seeks to restore 3,650 acres of oak habitat to aid ecosystem health, reduce wildfire risk

A $13-million effort to restore health to oak tree habitat in the Lake Creek area east of White City and near the Table Rocks north of Medford is in its second year.

So far, the thinning of conifers that were competing with oaks has taken place on about 200 acres near Lake Creek and on 100 acres near the Table Rocks. The community of Lake Creek is located about 12 miles east of White City, near the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

The work, known as the Upper Rogue Oak Initiative, is due to take place on 3,650 acres — nearly 6 square miles — of private and public land, all but 250 acres of it near Lake Creek. Partners include state and federal agencies, along with conservation organizations, functioning under an umbrella group known as the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Initiative.

The project is slated to take six years to complete.

An estimated 25% of historic oak habitat remains in the Pacific Northwest, according to Jaime Stephens, conservation director for the Ashland-based Klamath Bird Observatory, one of the project partners. The work is intended to restore degraded oak habitat, lessen wildfire danger and support wildlife, including birds whose populations are declining.

The work tasks include brush reduction and low-intensity ground fires, along with the reintroduction of native grasses and plants, in an effort to leave behind a landscape more resilient to fire, insects, disease and climate change.

“We’re looking to create a forest that would burn at low severity,” Stephens said Wednesday, after one of the project partners, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project of Ashland, posted updates about the work. Stephens said the project will benefit “wildlife and people.”

About half of the forest-dependent birds in the West are in decline, according to a news release from the observatory.

“This sobering statistic has sounded the alarm that landscape-level conservation actions are needed now more than ever,” according to the news release. “Restoration will remove conifers that are crowding oaks, use prescribed fire where feasible, reduce noxious weeds and reestablish a native understory.”

Indigenous people once used fire that benefited oaks, but the removal of those peoples, followed by encroaching farms, ranches and development and the advent of wildland fire suppression has led to conifers and non-native plants taking over some oak areas.

“Historically, regular burning as part of indigenous stewardship maintained cultural landscapes of oak conifer forests, woodlands and savanna in a more open state, enriching natural resources and biodiversity, and enhancing the structure and quality of critical food and fiber resources,” according to the observatory. “Following European settlement, many oak habitats were converted for agriculture or urban development. Decades of fire suppression during the latter half of the 1900s have allowed less fire-resistant yet faster-growing tree species, such as Douglas-fir, to encroach upon and displace oak trees.”

According to the organization, oak ecosystems support more than 300 vertebrate species.

Lomakatsi, an Ashland-based forest and watershed restoration organization, recently highlighted some of that work in a social media post.

“Restoration treatments will decrease the density of conifers and shrubs that have advanced from years of fire exclusion,” according to the organization. “Partners will also seed native species into treated areas, focused in the blackened footprints of burn piles to support the fresh growth of native plants and reduce the likelihood that non-native plants might establish and spread.”

The restoration work is expected to protect the oaks from unnaturally severe wildfires. Planned treatments include ecological thinning to reduce conifer encroachment and the density of surface and ladder fuels around large, legacy oak trees. That work sets the stage for the reintroduction of carefully applied low-intensity fire and controlled pile burns. Oak restoration also includes the removal of noxious weeds and seeding the understory to establish healthy populations of native forbs and grasses that provide habitat.

Funding for the work includes $7 million awarded two years ago from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board using Oregon Lottery revenue. It also includes $2.78 million from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program known as the America the Beautiful Challenge, plus $3 million in matching funds and donations.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is one of the partners. Oak habitat benefits birds, deer and elk, according to an agency statement.

“Oak habitat loss is a major threat to wildlife species in Oregon including Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-throated Gray Warbler and game animals such as deer and elk,” the agency said in a November 2022 news release announcing the America the Beautiful funding.

KBO tracks the first Oregon Vesper Sparrows!

Written by Dr. Sarah Rockwell

Vesper Sparrow (c) Frank Lospalluto

The unique Oregon subspecies of Vesper Sparrow, roughly estimated at just 2,000 birds, is of conservation concern. It is currently under review for listing under the Endangered Species Act because of its small population size and declining trend. One of the biggest challenges in identifying ways to help migratory species is the fact that we don’t know where they are for most of the year. Vesper Sparrows breeding in Oregon are only here for about half the year, from mid-April to early October. Because different subspecies of Vesper Sparrow mix on the wintering grounds in California and are not visually distinguishable, until now, we only had a rough idea of where Oregon Vesper Sparrows spend the non-breeding months. This study will help answer questions essential for future conservation efforts – where are these birds going during migration and winter, and what challenges might they face there?

To address this critical knowledge gap, we expanded KBO’s ongoing Oregon Vesper Sparrow research to include using miniaturized archival GPS tags to track the migration of sparrows breeding in the Rogue Basin. In 2020, we captured 10 males via target-netting at our Lily Glen study site, color-banded them, and deployed GPS tags using a leg-loop harness attachment (for more details and photos of this process, see here ). In 2021, we located and recaptured four of these birds to retrieve tags and stored data. Three of the tags successfully recorded these individuals’ fall migration and/or wintering locations; one also contained the spring migration track!

Non-breeding season movements have never been tracked in this subspecies before, and results from these first three birds are incredibly interesting in their variation. You may have already followed the adventures of Po, Gram, and Affy in our recent series of Facebook posts, where we learned where they traveled during migration, but we will recap the highlights here and below in a video. One male (Po; in green) departed Lily Glen on Sept 19 on what appears to be a “false start” migration attempt – he spent one night about 25 km southwest of Tule Lake and then headed right back to Lily Glen – a behavior that we hadn’t recorded before, and in fact, would have been nearly impossible to observe without the GPS tag data. He left Lily Glen again on Sept 24 and sped down to his wintering grounds in just two days. This was also the only individual for whom we also captured spring migration – Po left his overwintering area on the evening of Apr 9, made two short stopovers just east of Vina, CA, and Redding, CA, and was back setting up his territory at Lily Glen by Apr 15.

Another male (Gram, in blue) left Lily Glen on Sept 19 and spent two weeks on an extended fall stopover outside of Chico, CA, before arriving at his wintering grounds in October. A third male (Affy; in pink) chose a more westerly route and had multiple short fall stopovers, including at Sutter Butte, an interesting geological formation made of eroded volcanic lava domes outside of Yuba City that provides a habitat island in the highly developed Central Valley. Unfortunately, Affy’s GPS tag stopped functioning mid-October, so we do not know his final wintering location. The two birds we have wintering locations for (Po and Gram) spent the winter near Raymond, CA, and El Rancho, CA, in what appears to be oak savannah habitat in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

This study is the first to identify precise migratory stopover sites and overwintering areas used by this imperiled subspecies, and it addresses a critical information gap for future conservation efforts. So far, it seems like the Oregon Vesper Sparrows are using grassland and oak savannah habitat in the foothills east and west of the Central Valley as a stopover and overwintering habitat and avoiding the heavily agricultural Central Valley. We retrieved additional GPS tags in 2023, and after analyzing the data, we will use this information to assess whether conservation actions are warranted at non-breeding sites.

The Bureau of Land Management, Carpenter Foundation, Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund, and Oregon Wildlife Foundation supported this GPS-tracking work.

 

Video: https://youtu.be/wKNi96ffKAY 

Cover photo: Oregon Vesper Sparrow (c) Frank Lospalluto