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Uncovering the Secrets of the Oregon Vesper Sparrow

Oregon Vesper Sparrow (c) Frank Lospalluto

The Oregon Vesper Sparrow is a prime example of what birders refer to as “little brown jobs” – those small, drab, hard to identify birds that we sometimes overlook. But this little brown job is an imperiled subspecies unique to the Pacific Northwest. One that serves as an indicator of the health of our grassland ecosystems, and is in need of our attention and protection. With its small population size and declining trend, the Oregon Vesper Sparrow has recently been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Klamath Bird Observatory is undertaking a multi-year, full life cycle study to help determine the causes of its decline – always a challenge for a migratory bird that can be impacted by events on their breeding, migratory stopover, or overwintering grounds. However, new technologies such as miniaturized GPS tags and Motus are starting to uncover the secrets of where these birds go when they’re away from our study sites.

Dr. Sarah Rockwell will share some recent research on this unique at-risk subspecies. Including what we’ve learned from detailed nesting studies and new migration tracking technology. The talk will be held through the Salem Audubon Society over Zoom on February 8th, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Click here to register for the talk.

About the Speaker

Sarah Rockwell bio cropped (72ppi 4x)Dr. Rockwell is a Research Biologist at Klamath Bird Observatory in southern Oregon. She joined KBO in 2013 after completing her doctorate at the University of Maryland and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Where she studied the ecology of the then-endangered Kirtland’s Warbler in her home state of Michigan. Currently, she studies avian response to coniferous and riparian habitat restoration, including bird abundance, diversity, and demography, to improve conservation and management. Sarah also leads research on specific imperiled species, including Oregon Vesper Sparrow and Western Purple Martin.