Bear Creek Community Bird Survey

In September of 2020, multiple fires impacted much of the riparian (riverside) habitat along the Bear Creek Greenway in Jackson County, Oregon. The Bear Creek Greenway is a 20-mile paved path that runs through a large swath of riparian habitat in an otherwise mostly urban part of the Rogue Valley. It is an important resource for both human recreation and wildlife habitat. Riparian vegetation provides critical habitat for many bird species that rely on deciduous plants and nearby water to breed, survive the winter, or rest and refuel during migration.

The Rogue Valley Audubon Society, in partnership with Klamath Bird Observatory, Rogue River Watershed Council, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, and southern Oregon birders are coming together to monitor changes in the Bear Creek bird community as riparian vegetation recovers, alterations are made to the Greenway to reduce fire risk, and habitat restoration efforts take effect. The objectives of this survey are to 1) generate a long-term dataset to track changes in bird populations along Bear Creek over time, and 2) quantify how bird populations respond to habitat changes and recovery from the 2020 fires. Surveys will take place in severely burned, moderately burned, and unburned areas for comparison.

Surveys began in early 2021, and take place twice a month, during the second and fourth weeks. Surveys start within an hour of sunrise and take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete. A survey involves walking two half-mile transects along Bear Creek, creating a tally of bird species detected, and uploading your observations into eBird. More information about the survey protocol, site maps and descriptions, data entry, and how to access the sign-up sheet can be found at the Bear Creek Community Bird Survey webpage: https://www.roguevalleyaudubon.org/bear-creek-surveys/.

This survey is meant for relatively experienced birders who can confidently identify all or nearly all birds they are likely to see or hear in riparian habitat in southern Oregon, and who are comfortable walking 2-3 miles on a flat, smooth surface. Less experienced birders are welcome to join a more experienced friend or survey leader. If you are an experienced birder, please consider using your skills to help monitor the recovery of this valuable habitat and community resource. Interested volunteers can sign up anytime by emailing bearcreekbirdsurvey@gmail.com.

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