Conservation Science Projects

Range-wide Oregon Vesper Sparrow Project

Oregon Vesper Sparrow (c) Livaudais  cropped
Vesper Sparrow (c) Jim Livaudais

Vesper Sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus) are found throughout the northern half of North America and Canada. In the Pacific Northwest breeding populations of Oregon Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis), one of four subspecies, historically spanned from southwest British Columbia, western Washington and Oregon, to northwestern California. Breeding Oregon Vesper Sparrows have been extirpated from British Columbia and northwestern California.  Due to these dramatic declines, the subspecies has been petitioned for listing as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  The population is estimated to be fewer than 3,000 individuals.  

Collaborators are conducting field research to determine why this species has been in decline, and what can be done to turn these negative trends around.  Klamath Bird Observatory, American Bird Conservancy, Center for Natural Lands Management, and a master’s student from Southern Oregon University (SOU) are tackling this unique opportunity to study Vesper Sparrows together, throughout their breeding range, in order to develop strategies for stabilizing and recovering populations.

Learn more about this project here. 

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Long-term Monitoring of Bird Populations

Breeding and Migration Season Banding

KBO and our satellite organization Humboldt Bay Bird Observatory operate 16 long-term demographic monitoring stations throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. Each year, we capture and release around 10,000 individual birds representing over 80 species. These efforts track population abundance, reproductive success, and survival of birds in the region.

KBO’s long-term monitoring program also trains tomorrow’s conservation leaders. Since the start of the student volunteer internship program in 1996, KBO has hosted over 170 interns from 18 different countries. Of these, more than 30 have earned or are now pursuing advanced degrees related to conservation. Of the 36 international interns we have hosted, 18 are active banding trainers and some are establishing their own bird monitoring and research programs in their home countries. KBO takes pride in strengthening conservation capacity with those who share stewardship responsibility for our shared migratory birds.

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Oak Habitat Conservation Projects

Central Umpqua Mid-Klamath Oak Habitat Conservation Project

KBO has been collaborating with a diverse group of partners through the Central Umpqua Mid-Klamath Oak Habitat Conservation Project, a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funded Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, in order to better understand bird-habitat relationships and the response of birds to restoration in oak woodlands. We are working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project to implement and monitor oak restoration on private lands in Douglas and Jackson Counties in Oregon, as well as in Siskiyou County, California.  Around 2,000 acres have been restored and we completed pre-restoration monitoring in 2012.  The US Department of the Interior honored this collaborative project with the Partners in Conservation Award.

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Forest Conservation Projects

Ashland Forest Resiliency Project

The Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project is designed to reduce the risk of severe wildfire in the Ashland Watershed while protecting ecological integrity.  KBO is studying the effects of density management (i.e., fuel reduction using commercial harvest techniques) on birds and their habitats as part of a multi-party monitoring project. KBO has been implementing monitoring in the Ashland Watershed since 2005 and baseline results show a diverse coniferous forest bird community.  In 2012, we initiated a new study design and collected a single year of pre-treatment data.  We will revisit the same sites following treatment to assess changes in the bird community and the effectiveness of density management in reaching desired ecological conditions.

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Riparian (streamside) vegetation provides habitat for breeding, migrating, and overwintering birds, and is also critical to the quality of the in-stream habitat on which salmon fisheries and other aquatic species depend. In the western United States, riparian zones make up less than 0.5% of the total land area, yet they support the most diverse bird communities of any habitat type in arid and semi-arid regions. Riparian habitats are also highly imperiled due to human impacts, and now cover only a fraction of their former range. Their relative rarity on the landscape, yet high biodiversity, makes riparian zones one of the most important habitats for the conservation of birds and other wildlife in the West.

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Hummingbird Conservation Projects

Western Hummingbird Partnership

KBO works with the Western Hummingbird Partnership to revise content on the program’s website. The mission of the Partnership is to maintain thriving populations of hummingbirds in western North America through habitat restoration and enhancement, population monitoring, research, and education and outreach projects.  KBO works with the Partnership’s coordinator and Steering Committee to identify priority website needs and update the website accordingly.  The WHP website is a clearinghouse for hummingbird information and includes a species database, a forage plants database, maps, outreach materials, and lists of threats, research needs, and ongoing hummingbird projects. (Photo at left compliments of Lowell Whitaker.)

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Waterbird Conservation Projects

Black Terns

From 1997 to 2010, KBO implemented a Black Tern monitoring project in the Upper Klamath Basin of southern Oregon. The study has helped us understand local population distribution and trends for this emergent wetland obligate that is endangered, threatened, or of conservation concern in much of its range.

Colonial Waterbirds

From 2009-2011 KBO gathered historic Great Blue Heron colony data and implemented colonial waterbird surveys throughout Oregon and parts of Washington to contribute to the Western Colonial Waterbird Survey, a West-wide U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service effort. Data will be incorporated into an atlas to help understand regional baseline population information and distribution patterns.

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KBO is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization. Charitable donations to KBO are tax-deductable.
Our Tax Identicifcation Number is 93-1297400.

Copyright (c) 2018 Klamath Bird Observatory.