Engagement and Education
The Vesper Sparrow is sometimes affectionately referred to as a “little brown job”. This is what birdwatchers call those streaky brown sparrows and dull-colored females that we all struggle with identifying. But if no one knows about this subtle songbird, how can it ever be protected?
In 2018, we began engaging local Rogue Valley community members to learn about this declining subspecies and assist with our research. Volunteers help survey several meadows in and around the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, searching for any Oregon Vesper Sparrows color-banded at our main Howard Prairie study site that may have relocated to nearby suitable habitat.
In 2019, we also began partnering with Vesper Meadow Education Program to expand the study to nearby Vesper Meadow, a former agricultural pasture that is being reclaimed by a community-powered restoration effort (visit www.vespermeadow.org for more information). Community scientists at this location also help KBO researchers look for and record color-banded birds – or document their absence. We’ve had over 25 community scientists spend >400 hours assisting with these efforts through 2020! Our community science program is currently on hiatus due to COVID-19; check back to see if there are opportunities in 2023.
In addition to community science, our collaborative outreach efforts include educational videos and presentations. Vesper Meadow Education Program created a three-part series of YouTube videos about Oregon Vesper Sparrow research and conservation. These videos are for students in virtual classrooms.
People will learn bird identification, migration, habitat, and population decline.
People will learn about methods scientists are using to monitor the imperiled Oregon Vesper Sparrow. This video features scientists from the Klamath Bird Observatory that are utilizing new technologies to monitor the migration and nesting habits of our namesake species.
People will learn how anyone can help monitor birds using eBird Northwest. As well as how to engage in land restoration efforts like saving and spreading seeds of native plants to increase habitat and food for native birds and other species.
Dr. Sarah Rockwell of KBO shares recent research on this unique at-risk subspecies, including what we’ve learned from detailed nesting studies and new migration tracking technology (Motus).
Learn how scientists are monitoring the Oregon Vesper Sparrow, an imperiled species estimated to be down to around 2,000 individuals. See how nests are found, how fledglings are monitored, and how annual survival is observed using Oregon’s first MOTUS network, currently in place at Vesper Meadow. See how the ongoing data collection and partnerships with scientists with the Klamath Bird Observatory help inform our restoration efforts so help save this species from extinction.
KBO’s community science and education efforts are supported by Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Carpenter Foundation, and BLM National Conservation Lands Management Studies Support Program.