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Long-term monitoring project in Eastern Oregon will help biologists study trends in sagebrush-associated bird populations

The Great Basin Bird Conservation Region (BCR 9) is shown in light gray in this map of the United States’ western BCRs.

In 2019, KBO partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to initiate a new long-term bird monitoring project in eastern Oregon as part of the Integrated Monitoring for Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program that is coordinated by Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. This eastern Oregon bird monitoring project is an expansion of the IMBCR long-term monitoring program that is being implemented to better understand long-term bird population trends in North America’s Bird Conservation Regions, or BCRs. Our fieldwork brought us far from our home in Ashland, Oregon to monitor birds in the sagebrush habitats of eastern Oregon, stretching KBO’s point count program out all the way to the Idaho border!

One important benefit of KBO reaching out into eastern Oregon is that we helped to complete IMBCR’s coverage of the Great Basin BCR (BCR 9) and the sagebrush habitats of the west. Big Sagebrush is an important plant species for Greater Sage Grouse and this high desert shrub makes up an important component of the at-risk sagebrush ecosystems that other species of concern depend on, including Brewer’s Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Sagebrush Sparrow, and Short-eared Owl.

Brewer’s Sparrow

The IMBCR program started in 2008 and now covers nine BCRs in 16 states across the western United States. The goal of the program is to use a consistent, statistically rigorous design and protocol to provide complete and current information about bird distributions, abundances, and population trends over time. In addition to meeting BLM’s long-term goals, this new project strives to meet other BLM district-level information needs in Oregon. For example, IMBCR data can be used to understand ecological conditions, identify research needs, and provide valuable information for management and conservation planning.

Klamath Bird Observatory will collaborate with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies on broad scale analyses of individual species occupancy and density and results will be incorporated into reports, peer-reviewed publications, and decision support tools. The IMBCR dataset will be available to address both short-term management questions and long-term monitoring needs specific to BLM districts in eastern Oregon for years to come.