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Author: Elva Manquera

Western Purple Martin

The unique western subspecies of Purple Martin is of conservation concern, roughly estimated at just 3,500 pairs. There is little known about the Western Purple Martins compared to the more abundant eastern subspecies (Rockwell 2019). Previous studies using light-level geolocators have revealed that Eastern Purple Martins largely overwinter in the heavily forested Brazilian Amazon. Still, Western Purple Martins appear to use a different overwintering area in southeastern Brazil, which may be more impacted by agriculture (Fraser et al. 2012). However, these data come from only a small number of individuals breeding in British Columbia that may not represent the entire subspecies. It is unknown whether other western populations, including martins that nest in Oregon, follow the same pattern.

Further, light-level geolocator data have a larger margin of error and are not precise enough to identify specific roosting sites that may need protection (McKinnon and Love 2018). Archival GPS tags provide unprecedented precision in determining these locations. We are using this technology to track migratory routes and overwintering sites used by Western Purple Martins and identify potential conservation opportunities in the non-breeding season. A better understanding of overwintering locations and migratory stopover sites used by Western Purple Martins, as potential threats originating on the non-breeding grounds have been identified in a recent ISSSSP Conservation Assessment as key information gaps needed to target conservation actions (Rockwell 2019).

From 2020-2022, a small team of researchers from KBO, USFS, and USGS captured adult Western Purple Martins breeding in coastal Oregon at night while they roost in their nestboxes. We have captured martins on the Siuslaw National Forest and McKenzie River Trust lands. We band the birds and outfit them with lightweight archival GPS tags that fit like a backpack with two leg loops to track their movements. There’s just one catch – to have a battery small and lightweight enough for a small songbird to carry, the tags cannot transmit data, only store it. Returning tagged birds must be recaptured following a year-long round-trip migration to retrieve the tag and its precious geospatial data. Due to these challenges, most tracking studies of this type have relatively small sample sizes; nevertheless, they have revolutionized our understanding of bird migration. Precise data on the winter whereabouts of a few Western Purple Martin individuals are enormously important compared to the absence of any precise data that we had before this study. Our objectives are to find locations of roost sites used during migration and winter and use this information to identify conservation partners and actions that can be taken during the non-breeding season.

Our first recaptured martin flew almost 7,000 miles to southeastern Brazil and then back again! KBO has joined the International Purple Martin Working Group, which focuses mostly on Eastern Purple Martins, to include our western subspecies in research and conservation activities with partners in more tropical locales. Stay tuned!

This work is supported by the U.S. Forest Service, Purple Martin Conservation Association, and U.S. Geological Survey. Photos provided by Lorelle Sherman.

Fraser, K. C., B. J. M. Stutchbury, C. Silverio, P. M. Kramer, J. Barrow, D. Newstead, N. Mickle, B. F. Cousens, J. C. Lee, D. M. Morrison, T. Shaheen, et al. 2012. Continent-wide tracking to determine migratory connectivity and tropical habitat associations of a declining aerial insectivore. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279:4901–4906.

McKinnon, E. A. and O. P. Love. 2018. Ten years tracking the migrations of small landbirds: Lessons learned in the golden age of bio-logging. The Auk 135:834-856.

Rockwell, S. M. 2019. Conservation Assessment for Purple Martin (Progne subis). Interagency Special Status/Sensitive Species Program Conservation Assessments. USDA Forest Service Region 6 and USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon and Washington, 73 p.

A Trip to Brazil Presentation

Join Klamath Bird Observatory and Mantiqueira Bird Observatory (OAMa) for a presentation highlighting our FUNdraising trip to Brazil on April 12th-20th, 2023. Luiza, cofounder of OAMa, and Jaime, KBO Science Director, will present trip details and be available to help answer any questions about this fantastic opportunity on November 20th at 5 pm. This is a hybrid event with in-person being held at the KBO office. During this trip, you will bird with local scientists, visit beautiful national parks, participate in a photography workshop, and watch bird banding in action at OAMa. Register for the presentation on the form below. If you are interested in the trip to Brazil but cannot attend the presentation, you can reach out to Elva at

What this trip funds:

Klamath Bird Observatory is well known for its wide international reach, focusing on partnerships and capacity building across the ranges of our shared birds. KBO’s bird banding internship program has trained over 283 interns from more than 17 countries. The Mantiqueira Bird Observatory (OAMa) is a fruit of this capacity-building program, which is now running its training program in Brazil. As part of the continued partnership between these two observatories, we are pleased to announce a new internship exchange program! After training in their home country, biologists will have the opportunity to visit and train at the other observatory. KBO will host a student from OAMa for three or six months each year, and OAMa will host a student from KBO for up to three months at their field station in Brazil, joining the local crew at the year-round bird monitoring on the Mantiqueira Highlands. The cost of this trip helps fund this amazing internship program for both organizations and the intern.

A non-refundable deposit of $2500 is required to reserve your seat. The trip cost is $5000 per person, total due February 10th. $2500 of the trip fees is a donation. The cost does not include airfare.

Here is a draft itinerary for the Brazil trip. Subject to change. Brazil Itinerary 2023

Klamath Bird Observatory follows CDC guidelines. KBO events are being offered with COVID-19 safety as KBO’s primary concern. Proof of vaccination will be required for all in-person participants. All individuals attending an event must also fill out the Waiver of Liability form that will be emailed to you once you register for the event. Paper copies will be available at the event. Please do not attend the event if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Masks are not required but wear based on comfortability.

The 2022 Banding Season is Over

The KBO banding crew just finished another successful banding season! This year’s crew from across the world, captured over 5,000 birds throughout southern Oregon and demonstrated how much they learned by earning certifications at the Bander and Trainer levels from the North American Banding Council! Enjoy this short video highlighting this amazing team and the fantastic year they had. If you would like to help support future banding crew members and our long-term monitoring program you can donate to the Avian Internship Memorial Fund.

2021 Interns

Banding Program

Nolan Clements
Victor Armando Sanchez Gonzalez
Molly Heal
Sam Webb

Vesper Sparrow Project 

Mackenzie Morgan

News Release: Conservation Strategy for Landbirds in Sagebrush-Steppe and Riparian Habitats of Eastern OR and WA

Sagebrush at Steens Mountain photo by Aaron Holmes

The updated Partners in Flight Conservation Strategy for Landbirds in Sagebrush-Steppe and Riparian Habitats of Eastern Oregon and Washington (Rockwell 2022) brings forward recommendations to assist the planning efforts and habitat management actions of land managers and stimulate monitoring and research to support landbird conservation. This document encompasses sagebrush-steppe, riparian, and unique habitats in several ecoregions including the Owyhee Uplands, Northern Great Basin (sometimes referred to as Basin and Range), and High Lava Plains in Oregon, the Palouse Prairie in Washington, and the Columbia Basin in Washington and Oregon but also including an extension up the Okanagan Valley to the Canadian border.

The primary goal of this document is to promote the long-term persistence of healthy populations of native landbirds and associated habitats and ecosystems. To facilitate that goal, the document describes steps in a process that emphasizes providing quantitative, prescriptive recommendations for the desired range of habitat types and habitat conditions needed for landbird conservation. Combining this with other land management priorities to best meet multiple objectives will aid in the prevention of the listing of landbird species as threatened or endangered.

The Partners in Flight conservation planning process uses focal bird species as indicators of habitat components, determines current and desired conditions, recommends prescribed habitat components, and implements monitoring to measure treatment effectiveness. Our strategy for achieving ecologically functional habitats for landbirds is described through the habitat requirements of 19 focal species. By managing a suite of species representative of important habitat components, many other species and elements of biodiversity will also be conserved.

This document is an update of Conservation Strategy for Landbirds in the Columbia Plateau of Eastern Oregon and Washington (Altman and Holmes 2000). In Version 2.0, the conservation issues and biological objectives for habitat attributes and their focal species are updated where needed based on new data. It is hoped that the presentation of these types of quantitative biological objectives will not only stimulate conservation action on the ground but also stimulate data collection and analyses to test the models and professional judgment used to develop the objectives.

Lazuli Bunting photo by Jim Livaudais
Sage Thrasher photo by Jim Livaudais
Gray Flycatcher photo by Jim Livaudais








You can view and download the full Partner’s in Flight Conservation Strategy for Landbirds in Sagebrush-Steppe and Riparian Habitats of Eastern OR and WA here

Hawk Watching Adventure!

Rough Legged Hawk photo credit Jim Livaudais

It’s that time of year! Please join longtime KBO board member Dick Ashford for our first hawk watching outing of the season. Low water conditions on the Klamath Basin refuges mean we’ll have our best opportunities by visiting ranchlands, specifically those in Butte Valley and the lower Basin. There are no guarantees (it’s a natural show), but Dick will have scouted the areas beforehand to locate the best spots. If the birds are there, we’ll find ‘em!

We’ll depart Ashland at 8 AM on Saturday, Nov 19th, and return around 5-ish. In order to provide everyone with the best possible experience, attendance will be limited. Therefore, we will carpool (a must!) in 4 vehicles of 4 people each. Everyone will be required to submit proof of vaccination. Thank you for your help in keeping us all safe in these challenging times!

Please be sure to dress comfortably and bring lunch and liquids. Most of our birding will be from the roadside, and walking will be minimal.

Because this outing is so popular (Hawks have charisma!), early signup is recommended. Your seat will be confirmed upon receipt of your non-refundable payment of $40 per person. We’re looking forward to seeing you in the Field Of Wonder!

Klamath Bird Observatory follows CDC guidelines. KBO events are being offered with COVID-19 safety as KBO’s primary concern. Proof of vaccination will be required for all in-person participants. All individuals attending an event must also fill out the Waiver of Liability form that will be emailed to you once you register for the event. Paper copies will be available at the event. Please do not attend the event if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Masks are not required but wear based on comfortability.

2022 U.S. State of the Birds Report Reveals Widespread Losses of Birds Due to Habitat Stress

The Pacific Northwest is seeing the impacts of unsustainable forest management, putting birds and people at risk but when we invest, in bird conservation works, we have an unprecedented opportunity to implement restoration efforts that will benefit birds and people.

Bird Declines in Forests that Have Departed from Historic Cycles. According to population trends by eBird data, bird numbers tend to be declining in forests that have departed from historic conditions and are most in need of disturbance restoration Sources: Cornell Lab | eBird data 2007–2019 (left map); DeMeo et al, “Expanding Our Understanding of Forest Structural Restoration Needs in the Pacific Northwest”, Northwest Science Winter 2018 (right map).

A newly released State of the Birds report for the United States reveals a tale of two trends, one hopeful, one dire. Historically we have demonstrated that investment in bird conservation can pay off – for example, we have recovered at-risk species like waterfowl and the Peregrine Falcons by focused resources and efforts. However, North American populations continue to show widespread declines. In the west, forest-dependent and wetland birds are both showing a more recent decline that is of grave concern.

For most of the past 100 years, western forests have managed to encourage conifer tree dominance and discourage fires. But for many centuries before the 1900s, fires were common on this landscape, both natural wildfires and intentional burns by Indigenous peoples. Today those historic disturbance patterns that created a mosaic of conifer and broadleaf forest cover and successional stages have been disrupted, and large swaths of western forest landscapes have departed from their natural range of tree species and structural diversity. These areas of forest departure from natural patterns are also hotspots for western forest bird declines. Furthermore, these compromised forests have very little resilience to the forces of wildfire and climate change, which puts greater forest landscape health and forest resources (such as water reservoirs) at risk of disaster. Investments in forest restoration can turn around this dim outlook for western forests, western forest birds, and the people that call the west home.

“Western forest restoration programs that are integrating bird conservation objectives with efforts to increase climate-, fire-, and water-security for front-line communities provide just one of many such opportunities outlined in this year’s State of The Birds Report. This report highlights our work with Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Programs showing how a small investment in bird conservation specialists leverages huge forest restoration investments to ensure they pay off for birds and people. — Dr. John Alexander, Executive Director, Klamath Bird Observatory

Long-term trends of waterfowl show strong increases where investments in wetland conservation have improved conditions for birds and people. However, we are not seeing the same trends here in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in their history, Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges will be dry in fall 2022. In California’s Central Valley, limited water supplies forced a 60% reduction in rice in rice acreage in 2022, which traditionally provides crucial habitat for over 5 million wintering ducks. In these regions, the effects of drought are exacerbated by rigid local water laws and the over-allocation of limited water supplies that restrict sufficient water availability for waterfowl and waterbird habitats. Policies that create efficient water-sharing solutions are desperately needed if waterfowl and waterbird populations are to recover from drastic declines in the American West.


Published by 33 leading science and conservation organizations and agencies, the 2022 U.S. State of the Birds report is the first look at the nation’s birds since a landmark 2019 study showed the loss of 3 billion birds in the United States and Canada in 50 years. A culture of unsustainable forest management and fire suppression is catching up with us — now exacerbated by climate change it is putting birds and people at risk. Immense investments in large-scale forest management have the potential to pay off for birds if we pay attention to existing bird conservation science and habitat conservation plans.

Findings included in the report:

● More than half of U.S. bird species are declining.
● U.S. grassland birds are among the fastest declining with a 34% loss since 1970.
● 70 newly identified Tipping Point species have each lost 50% or more of their populations in the past 50 years, and are on track to lose another half in the next 50 years if nothing changes. They include beloved gems such as Rufous Hummingbirds, songsters such as Golden-winged Warblers, and oceanic travelers such as Black-footed Albatrosses.

The report used five sources of data, including the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count, to track the health of breeding birds in habitats across the United States.



The Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO) is a non-profit organization that advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Working in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the ranges of migratory birds  KBO emphasizes high-caliber science and the role of birds as indicators to inform and improve natural resource management. KBO also nurtures an environmental ethic through community outreach and education.

Established in 1999, the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Committee is a coalition of state and federal government agencies, private organizations, and bird initiatives in the United States working to ensure the long-term health of North America’s native bird populations. The U.S. NABCI Committee creates a unique forum for federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations to address shared bird conservation challenges and priorities. Its strength lies in its ability to directly engage conservation leaders and to collaboratively develop and express a collective voice that promotes integrated all-bird conservation. Individuals who serve on the U.S. NABCI Committee build working relationships across the bird conservation community, contributing their expertise and insights to mutually beneficial goals. Collaborative efforts are aimed at the U.S. and tri-national bird conservation communities and inform and highlight new frontiers in bird conservation.

Media contact—Elva Manquera, Klamath Bird Observatory,, (541) 908-0040

Media kit includes 2022 State of the Birds Report (PDF) and multimedia. Use of provided graphics, bird photos, sounds, and videos is protected by copyright and permitted only within stories about the content of the 2022 State of the Birds report. Redistribution or any other use is prohibited without express written permission of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or the copyright owner.

Conservation Science Stamp

Support All Bird Conservation

Each year, Klamath Bird Observatory offers a Conservation Stamp Set for purchase with proceeds supporting both national and regional conservation efforts. The 2022-23 two-stamp set includes:

  1. The Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (the Duck Stamp)
  2. KBO’s Conservation Science Stamp

Migratory birds help drive our international full-lifecycle efforts to protect migratory birds throughout their full range. Klamath Bird Observatory’s 2022-2023 Conservation Science Stamp tells the story of the Balck-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens), a migratory bird that breeds in Pacific Northwest oak-conifer habitats and winters in oak-pine and cloud forest habitats in western Mexico and Central America.

Proceeds from this year’s Science Stamp support our international bird banding program. Bird banding data tell us if birds are successfully breeding in an area—an indication of a healthy habitat. It also tells us if birds are surviving migration, information that informs international conservation efforts. Our partnerships with the University of Guadalajara and San Pancho Bird Observatory in Mexico help us study the full lifecycle of migratory birds, including this warbler. KBO’s bird banding internship program also helps us train the next generation of bird conservation leaders. This program has hosted over 280 young professionals from 17 countries.

The Federal Duck Stamp is among the most successful conservation tools ever created. Duck Stamp sales contribute directly to habitat conservation in our National Wildlife Refuges. While waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older are required to purchase them, anyone can contribute to conservation by buying Duck Stamps. In addition to serving as a hunting license and conservation tool, a current Federal Duck Stamp is also a free pass into any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee. Because nearly all of the proceeds are used to conserve habitat for birds and other wildlife, birders, nature photographers, and other outdoor enthusiasts buy Duck Stamps to help ensure that they can always see wildlife at their favorite outdoor spots.

By purchasing this year’s Conservation Science Stamp you are supporting international bird conservation partnerships, monitoring, and education. You can purchase this stamp set here. 

The Stamp Artists

Renata Miwa is the artist of this year’s Conservation Science Stamp. She is a Brazilian Illustrator and Senior Designer based in São Paulo / Brazil and has been working in the field of editorial design and advertising for almost 10 years now with clients such as McDonalds, Unilever, TED, etc. She is a volunteer designer at Mantiquera Bird Observatory (OAMa) and helps coordinate the design of printed materials. donates her illustration to be sold in their store, and votes in the referendum. Renata’s work is inspired by urban elements, colors, and graphic novels. In her spare time she loves to cook, bird watch, take care of my garden and chat with my friends.

You can see more of Renata’s work on her website:



James Hautman, in 1989, at the age of 25, Jim became the youngest artist in history to win the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp Contest. In 1994 he not only took first prize but he set a new record by receiving a perfect judges score as well as the distinguished People’s Choice Award. Jim has gone on to capture top honors in the Federal contest in 1998, 2010, 2016, and in 2021. You can visit the Hautman brother’s website to see more of their art 


Conservation Assessment for Harlequin Duck

The goal of the Conservation Assessment is to summarize existing information regarding the biology and ecology of the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus), threats to the species, and management considerations, and to provide information to land managers to assist in the formulation of options for management activities. This species is of concern in Oregon and Washington due to potentially declining populations in western North America, narrow breeding habitat requirements, increasing human disturbance at breeding and wintering sites, and a lack of information regarding threats, causes of declines, factors limiting population size, and basic demographic information in the Oregon and Washington portion of its range. There is regional concern that western Harlequin Ducks may be in jeopardy, but there are insufficient data to support federal listing at this time. Federal management for this species follows Forest Service (FS) Region 6 Sensitive Species (SS) and/or Oregon/Washington (OR/WA) BLM Special Status Species (SSS) policies.

The Conservation Assessment document can be searched for and found on the Interagency Species Status/Sensitive Species Program.