Tag: bird conservation

Vesper Sparrow Film site is now live!

We have some exciting updates to share with you all here at Klamath Bird Observatory. The Oregon Vesper Sparrow research we have been working so hard on is being turned into a short-film documentary! Local photographer and videographer Daniel Thiede has spent countless hours in the field with us this past year to help document our research efforts. We are thrilled to announce the Vesper Sparrow Film site is now live! Click on the link below to view the trailer for the film and to donate to the Oregon Vesper Sparrow research and documentary. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and need your support!

CLICK HERE to visit the Vesper Sparrow Film website.  

The Oregon Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus affinis can be found west of the Cascade Mountains. This subspecies has been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act because of its small population size and declining trend. Breeding Bird Surveys indicate a statistically significant declining population trend of ~5% per year. The 2010 estimated range-wide population size was <3,000 birds, and more recent information suggests that number is closer to 2,000 birds.

Understanding the causes of population decline is critical to informing conservation action. A group of collaborators are contributing to a three year range-wide study to assess limiting factors. The study will assess whether birds are successfully producing young, surviving the winter, and dispersing to nearby habitat to identify where within the annual life cycle conservation actions are needed.

With the Oregon Vesper Sparrow currently under a 12-month review to determine whether listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, it is critical to understand subspecies variation for this species. Improved understanding of variation in morphology and vocalizations of the Oregon Vesper Sparrow subspecies, compared with other Vesper Sparrow subspecies, may have major conservation implications.

KBO, along with project partners in the Puget Lowlands in Washington (Center for Natural Lands Management), as well as the Willamette Valley (American Bird Conservancy), and a graduate student from Southern Oregon University, have been in the field collecting data to help us understand what makes this subspecies unique. Next year our efforts will continue, and our work on subspecies variation will be expanded to include the Great Basin Vesper Sparrow populations P.g. confinis in eastern Oregon.

Please continue to tune in to KBO and the Vesper Sparrow Film websites to receive updates on this important work.

Grasshopper Sparrows and Ashland’s Imperatrice Property discussed on Jefferson Exchange

Jefferson Public Radio recently broadcast a lively and informative discussion about the proposed solar panel farm installation at the City of Ashland’s Imperatrice Property—and the potential for the project to negatively impact the Grasshopper Sparrow population that nests there. Local author and ornithologist Pepper Trail, Ashland City Councilor Dennis Slattery, and Jefferson Exchange host Geoffrey Riley explored differing perspectives on the topic.

KBO, in partnership with Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and Rogue Valley Audubon Society, completed Grasshopper Sparrow surveys on the property in 2016 and those results help to inform the discussion. More information about Grasshopper Sparrows and the Imperatrice Property is available at the Rogue Valley Audubon Society website, including a link to KBO’s 2016 survey report.

CLICK HERE to listen to the Jefferson Exchange episode “Ashland Solar Panel Proposal Runs into Bird Interference”.

CLICK HERE to visit the Rogue Valley Audubon Society Grasshopper Sparrows and the Imperatrice Property website article.

Science Brief: Integrating focal and priority species needs to inform restoration design on the South Fork Stillaguamish Vegetation Project

A conservation planning framework that applies what we know about birds as indicators of forest structure and composition can inform landscape level planning and stand level restoration. Such planning strives to achieve restoration goals that benefit entire forests and the animals that inhabit them. We selected focal bird species that are representative of old growth forest conditions, and then, within the focal species framework we included the needs of priority wildlife and plant species. By cross-walking a focal and priority species approach, we identify current and desired conditions, recommend prescription components, and implement monitoring to measure treatment effectiveness. Klamath Bird Observatory has partnered with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, and Puget Sound Bird Observatory to form a technical advisory team which is working side by side with the Regional Forest Service Avian Conservation Program Manager and USDA Forest Service Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff to inform restoration planning. Collectively, this team has integrated focal species needs into planning for the South Fork Stillaguamish Vegetation Project and designed a robust monitoring strategy to measure ecological outcomes.

This vegetation project is occurring in densely stocked Late Successional Reserves (areas set aside to provide old growth habitat). The Forest has identified ~3000 acres where commercial thinning of trees <80 years of age would be both feasible and beneficial to old growth dependent species within a project area of 65,000 acres. Restoration goals are to promote stand development and characteristics of old forests, e.g. broadleaf plants, structural diversity, standing dead trees, and coarse woody debris on the ground. Thus, thinning is designed to promote tree species diversity, structural complexity, and understory cover at the treatment site and contribute to landscape scale goals for Late Successional Reserve habitat diversity over the long-term.

Prioritizing where restoration would have the largest impact
At the onset of the partnership, the technical advisory team looked at areas that the Forest had assessed for potential restoration and identified the upper South Fork Stillaguamish drainage as a conservation priority. The area is designated as a Late Successional Reserve and is currently comprised largely of second growth stands that are adjacent to large contiguous stands of mature and old growth forest. Forest restoration treatments that accelerate the development of older forest characteristics will have added value in this landscape by reducing fragmentation and creating larger blocks of priority forest age structure. Klamath Bird Observatory applied avian climate models and determined that this area is a good candidate for climate smart restoration — that is, the desired conditions align with what climate models project for the area over the next 50-100 years. The upper South Fork Stillaguamish drainage also lends itself well to monitoring — it has good road access, a reasonable number of replicates for treatment and control stands with similar vegetation and age structure, and is a reasonable size to implement both stand and landscape level monitoring.

Integrating the Partners in Flight Conservation Planning Framework
The technical advisory team worked with the forest planning team to inform restoration planning, including stand level treatment prescriptions. Klamath Bird Observatory, working closely with the Regional Forest Service Avian Conservation Program Manager, applied focal species information from applicable Partners in Flight conservation plans. We identified current and desired conditions based on a suite of focal landbird species indicative of specific stand attributes, structure, and condition. Tribal partners identified additional plant and wildlife species that are management and/or cultural priorities in the planning area. Collectively, working within the sideboards of the Forest Service environmental assessment, we established measurable habitat objectives to achieve desired habitat conditions based on the habitat needs of focal species.

Because focal species informed planning, we applied the same approach to develop a short and long term monitoring strategy that will measure treatment effectiveness and inform adaptive management. Klamath Bird Observatory worked with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians to design site and landscape scale monitoring. By measuring changes in bird communities and vegetation we will be able to assess whether restoration treatments have the desired result, and because a suite of birds serve as indicators of various forest components, we will be able to assess whether the forest is on a trajectory toward older forest conditions over the next 20-50 years. The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians in partnership with the Puget Sound Bird Observatory are completing bird and vegetation monitoring, in part, through citizen science. Achieving long-term monitoring goals is dependent on partnerships, and this project provides a great example of how various organizations can bring expertise to the table to accomplish goals in a cost effective manner. Data are being contributed to Avian Knowledge Northwest, a regional node of the Avian Knowledge Network and thus, also contributing to this larger avian data collaboration with the potential to inform regional management challenges and conservation planning at even broader scales.

Register Now – a Few Spots Remain for Upcoming Talk and Walk Class

Presented by Karl Schneck, KBO board member

Talk: October 18th Thursday 6:30-8:00pm at 320 Beach Street (old Lincoln School), Ashland, Oregon

Karl’s life-long passion for birds has guided the landscaping on his property in the foothills just outside Ashland, Oregon. In this talk, he will present the many ways a backyard can be made more attractive and useful for birds in our region. He will also introduce the feathered neighbors that now live on or have visited his backyard and who will be likely seen during the field trip.

In Karl’s words …
“With 117 species in just over three years, I feel especially grateful for the abundance of birds seen on our property two miles north of I-5 on N. Valley View Road. which consists of several habitats, including riparian, oak woodland, and grasslands. I’ve had quite a few days when I’ve traveled to see the birds and came home wondering why I didn’t just stay at home and see more species (of course, there are benefits to seeing new areas). However, when I get too old to tromp through the forests and swamps, there is comfort in knowing that I can sit on my deck and enjoy a multitude of birds.

We are still in the process of planting and improving our yard habitat for the birds. Watching the hummers feed from our penstemons is one example of adding features for the birds, as well as feeders, water, and shelter. Adding features for specific birds can be rewarding when your target bird shows up. Across the road, Bald Eagles come in to feed on the afterbirth of the cows. This year I had Barn Owl, American Kestrel, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-tailed Hawk, Golden Eagle (about a mile away), Bullock’s Oriole, Brewer’s Blackbird, Western Kingbird, Oak Titmouse, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, California Towhee, and undoubtedly a number of others I didn’t know about, nesting on the property.

All these birds bring great joy to my life and make a great start to the day when I walk outside in the morning and take them all in. So, my goal for this class is to share my birds with you in a walk and a light lunch, hoping you will enjoy them as much as I do.”

Walk: October 20th Saturday 8:00am-12:00pm – meet at 320 Beach Street, Ashland, Oregon

This is a field trip to Karl’s property on the edge of Ashland—bring your binoculars! Lunch will be provided (included with registration fee) on Karl’s birdy patio where the birding adventure will continue.

Fee for this Talk and Walk class is $50 ($40 for holders of the Conservation Science Stamp Set) with proceeds going directly to support KBO’s science and education programs.

Contact Shannon Rio at shannonrio@aol.com or call 541-840-4655 to sign up.

KBO Biologist on the Cover of The Wildlife Professional

The latest issue of The Wildlife Society’s magazine, The Wildlife Professional, features KBO Research Biologist Sarah Rockwell as its cover girl! The article mentions findings from Dr. Rockwell’s research on one of North America’s rarest songbirds – the Kirtland’s Warbler – conducted when she was a doctoral student at the University of Maryland and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. It details the story of the recovery of this species from 200 pairs in the 1970s-1980s to over 2,300 today. The article also discusses more recent research efforts to determine the Kirtland’s Warbler’s migratory routes and overwinter habitats, and evaluate whether continued Brown-headed Cowbird control is necessary.

When the Endangered Species Act was passed into law in 1973, the Kirtland’s Warbler was on the initial list of endangered and threatened species. The next challenge facing the Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation Team is to ensure ongoing habitat protection for this conservation-reliant species. This species has been recently proposed for removal from the endangered species list because of successful progress towards population recovery, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a decision in 2019.

The Wildlife Professional magazine is available to The Wildlife Society members. CLICK HERE to view this issue’s cover and an issue synopsis.

Wings and Wine Gala this Sunday – tickets still available online and walk-ins welcome

KBO’s Wings and Wine Gala is this Sunday. Please join us for a beautiful fall afternoon under the oak trees at Grizzly Peak Winery. More information about the event and buying tickets can be found on our WINGS AND WINE GALA WEBPAGE.

As a Year of the Bird event, our 2018 Wings and Wine Gala celebrates the things we can all do to support bird conservation, every day. We will be feature our internship program by raising money this critical professional education. Over the past 20 years, Klamath Bird Observatory has hosted more than 250 volunteer student interns from all over the world. These inspiring bird conservationists have gone on to work with non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions where they make significant contributions to bird conservation. Come to our Wings and Wine Gala and help us grow the next generation of bird conservationists.

The Gala’s auction times are listed online and you can start you bidding now by CLICKING HERE.

We look forward to seeing you this Sunday as we celebrate the Year of the Bird through education, storytelling, science, and conservation.

Birding the Klamath Basin’s National Wildlife Refuges

October 11, Thursday 6:30-8:00pm at Ashland Outdoor Store

Presented by Shannon Rio, President of the Board of Klamath Bird Observatory

The stunning photography and dramatic history of the Birding the Klamath Basin’s National Wildlife Refuges presentation will take us to some of the most amazing wildlife refuges—all within the Klamath Basin right here in our southern Oregon and northern California backyard. One of these, the Lower Klamath, was the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge, established by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1908 specifically for protection of migratory birds. The Klamath Basin refuges are recognized far and wide for sweeping vistas and spectacular birding.

This presentation is an invitation to visit the Refuges with public access and will include information on how to find them and what glory you might expect to see there. We will also discuss the Federal Duck Stamp’s role in protecting lands for wildlife and encourage the purchase of these stamps that support the Refuge. KBO Executive Director John Alexander will speak briefly on conservation, our wildlife refuges, and how we as individuals can make a difference on their behalf.

This presentation is free. The Outdoor Store is located at 37 North 3rd Street in Ashland, Oregon.

Shannon Rio is a wildlife educator who believes that when we connect with nature, we will naturally want to protect what we love: the birds and wild places.

Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships.

It’s September in the Year of the Bird!

Our Call to Action this September in the Year of the Bird is to do everything we can to help birds have a safe migration this fall. Each year, billions of birds migrate north in the spring and south in the fall. Along the way, though, they now face all sorts of human-made challenges. Whether it be from vast expanses of concrete to invisible windows and confusing artificial lights, the number of migrating birds that die every year is estimated to be as many as 1 billion.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Making windows bird-safe, turning off your lights, planting native plants, encouraging bird-friendly architecture in your community—these are all ways you can help birds have a safer migration. So for September, our Year of the Bird ask is to do everything you can to help birds have a safe migration this fall. You can read more about how to do this and how lights and windows pose dangers to migrating birds in the featured Year of the Bird post and KBO info handouts below.

CLICK HERE to visit the National Audubon Society’s September’s Featured Action: Help Birds Have a Safe Migration post.

And check out KBO’s info handouts: Reducing Bird Collisions with Windows, Birdify Your Yard, and Cats and Wildlife—available at our website (see link below).

CLICK HERE to view KBO’s Reducing Bird Collisions with Windows info handout.

CLICK HERE to view KBO’s Birdify Your Yard info handout.

CLICK HERE to view KBO’s Cats and Wildlife info handout.


2018 is Year of the Bird! The National Geographic Society is celebrating the centenary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act with a year-long celebration of birds. Dozens of Year of the Bird partners, including Klamath Bird Observatory, are coordinating Year of the Bird activities.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Year of the Bird at the National Geographic Society’s website.

KBO’s NorCal crew collects bird data for riparian restoration (and learns to kayak!)

Conducting field research always comes with its fair share of unexpected obstacles, and the 2018 season was no exception. This year KBO began a new partnership with the Salmon River Restoration Council (SRRC) in northern California. The Salmon River has a long history of human impacts, particularly due to mining, and the SRRC has plans to restore several sites along the North and South Forks to

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KBO Science Director wins Leadership in Conservation Award

The accomplishments of Klamath Bird Observatory’s Science Director Jaime Stephens have been recognized by the international bird conservation consortium Partners in Flight (PIF)—presenting her with its prestigious Leadership in Conservation Award. The Leadership Award honors an individual or group that demonstrates outstanding guidance and direction that contributes, or has contributed, to advancing Partners in Flight conservation efforts. Jaime accepted the award at the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference in Virginia earlier this year.

In nominating Jaime, colleague Barb Bresson, Regional Avian Program Manager with the US Forest Service and 2013 Leadership Awardee, stated “Jaime exemplifies excellence in leadership as KBO’s Science Director supervising and mentoring a team of incredibly effective, passionate, and productive biologists while also actively engaging and taking on leadership roles in PIF and within other conservation focused initiatives.”

Since her start with KBO in 2002, Jaime has placed her indelible stamp on bird conservation at all scales, local to international. It is the breadth and depth of her accomplishments that prompted this recognition. As Science Director, she directs the science program at KBO, conducting and publishing her own work on bird conservation but collaborates extensively with colleagues on other science. She has been instrumental in driving the discussion on bird data management nationally, has led the way for bird conservation partnerships across the west to greater and more permanent conservation action, and continues to seek new opportunities to improve and align bird conservation. Her effectiveness stems from her steadfast belief in a data-driven approach to bird conservation science, and from her infectious enthusiasm, optimism, and engaging leadership style which brings together partners from similar and disparate groups.

Jaime served as Chair of the Western Working Group of Partners in Flight (WWG) for three years (2012-2015). During her tenure, the WWG established new internal policies of governance lending long-term stability to the organization, expanded the Group’s reach and diversity of participants, and advanced new conservation initiatives which continue today. This is consistent with her steady and reasoned leadership style which engenders trust and credibility. When Jaime talks, people listen. Despite having rotated out of the Chair position, Jaime continues to lend her expertise and experience to the WWG, and continues her strong and positive influence on the direction of the WWG’s conservation initiatives in the west, from Mexico to Canada.

Jaime embodies the mission of Partners in Flight—to advance full life-cycle conservation of landbirds in the Americas via sound science, integrated conservation partnerships, habitat delivery on public and private lands, and targeted citizen outreach. Her accomplishments hold significance. Please join us in congratulations to Jaime for this well-deserved recognition.

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