End of Point Count Season Update
By Tom McLaren, Biologist Point Count Program
Each spring, KBO conducts a large-scale point count surveying effort to collect data on abundance, habitat use, and bird communities. Many species can only be surveyed during their breeding season when they establish territories and are easily detected by their unique songs. To take advantage of this, our point count surveys take place within a narrow window during the spring breeding season. With the help of a fantastic team of seasonal point count technicians, KBO completed another successful season of surveys this year.
This spring, our surveyors conducted a total of 2101 point counts over 214 survey days. Much of this work was related to long-term monitoring of avian populations and ecological restoration projects. These projects align with KBO’s goals to understand changes to bird communities and to provide conservation relevant science to resource managers.
Our long-term monitoring projects include partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS). Our partnership with the BLM includes ongoing surveys within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon and large-scale monitoring of bird populations in eastern Oregon as a part of the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. With over 1,000 detections, Western Meadowlarks continue to be one of our most frequently observed species on our IMBCR surveys. Other notable species include Horned Lark, Sagebrush Sparrow, and Gray Flycatcher, each of which was detected several hundred times on our surveys.
In partnership with the NPS, we also completed our 15th year of point count surveys in national parks of the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Our surveyors visited the Lava Beds National Monument and Redwoods National and State Parks in northern California. At Redwoods National and State Parks, our most commonly detected species were the Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Western Flycatcher) and the Pacific Wren. Notably, in Lava Beds National Monument, our surveyors had several Pinyon Jay detections. These birds, which are under federal review for listing under the Endangered Species Act, are known for foraging on the seeds of the eponymous pinyon pine and are currently suffering a dramatic population decline. The Pinyon jay’s decline is thought to be the result of a loss of suitable pinyon-juniper habitat.
This year, our restoration surveying work took our technicians across Oregon and into Northern California. One of our largest restoration projects in the Northern Blues Mountains included surveys across the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests of Northeastern Oregon in partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS). Our surveyors also visited regions of Northern California, southern Oregon, and Portland to survey oak, riparian, and aspen restoration sites. Notably, this year marked the initiation of an oak restoration monitoring project as part of an ongoing partnership with the Upper Rogue Oak Initiative. This partnership is focused on restoring and maintaining healthy oak woodlands within the region. With more than 500 detections each, Western Tanagers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and American Robins were the most frequently seen species on our restoration projects. Our surveyors also had several exciting encounters with more uncommon species, including the American Three-toed Woodpecker, Northern Goshawk (American Goshawk), and Veery.
We’d like to give a big shout-out to our fantastic team of point count surveyors this year. They worked tirelessly to collect high-quality data about our bird communities while navigating life in the field. Our science team is happy to have another successful point count season on the books, and we are looking forward to learning more from the data we have collected.