Tag: Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

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.

KBO at the 2018 Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Research Symposium this Thursday!

Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, with support from the Bureau of Land Management, will host the 2018 Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Research Symposium this Thursday March 15 evening. Come learn about recently-conducted fieldwork from both students and professional scientists within the Monument in our backyard.

KBO Executive Director Dr. John Alexander will present the Symposium keynote with a talk titled “KBO Science Informing Adaptive Management and Conservation in Our National Monument”. His talk will explore the more than 20 years KBO has been conducting monitoring and research in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in collaboration with the BLM and many other partners. The results have and continue to inform adaptive management that improves ecological conservation. Dr. Alexander will summarize these results, focusing on how KBO’s science has helped to shape management actions that have benefited migratory birds, ecosystem health, and biodiversity in the Monument.

The Symposium will be held at the Southern Oregon University Science Auditorium (CLICK HERE for map) March 15, 2018 from 7 pm to 9 pm.

CLICK HERE for more information about the 2018 Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Research Symposium.

Oregon Vesper Sparrow Conservation

The Oregon Vesper Sparrow is a subspecies of the Vesper Sparrow, a migratory grassland-obligate bird. This subspecies nests to the west of the Vesper Sparrow’s continental breeding range. The Oregon Vesper Sparrow is at risk of becoming extinct.  However, KBO’s science is informing important steps in its conservation.  

In early 2017, new protections for Oregon Vesper Sparrows that breed in grasslands adjacent to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument were put in place when President Obama issued a proclamation that doubled the size of this Monument. The expansion increased the amount of grassland habitats that occur in the Monument, and thus in the Region’s network of protected areas.

Klamath Bird Observatory’s science informed President Obama’s decision to expand the Monument. The expansion focused on at-risk species and considered ‘ecological’ boundaries to provide further protection for the biodiversity for which the Monument was originally established. Specifically, Obama’s proclamation expanded protection for grasslands and oak woodlands that are critical for bird conservation — habitats that occurred near but not within the original Monument boundary.

One of KBO’s most recent peer-reviewed papers identified these habitats as underrepresented in our regions National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, and Monuments. President Obama’s expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was driven by this and other regionally relevant science. As a result the expansion benefited some of Oregon’s most at-risk and under protected birds, including the Oregon Vesper Sparrow.

Despite this success story, the Vesper Sparrow still faces significant conservation challenges.
A petition to list the Oregon Vesper Sparrow under the Endangered Species Act has been submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The species is at-risk of extinction because 1) it has a very small population (estimated at <3,000 individuals), 2) for the past half-decade this population has been declining by 5% per year, and 3) ongoing habitat loss and degradation continues to threaten the grasslands that Oregon Vesper Sparrows depend on for nesting. Adding to these challenges, there is uncertainty about why this species is in such decline.

For us to effectively save this species there are key questions we must answer about when and where during its annual cycle it is most threatened. Which threats — threats to its breeding, migratory stopover, or wintering habitats — are most ‘limiting’ to this subspecies? KBO is collaborating with the American Bird Conservancy and many other partners to answer these questions in order to better prioritize conservation actions that will stabilize and reverse its population declines.

The Oregon Vesper Sparrow is featured on KBO’s 2017 Conservation Science Stamp — CLICK HERE to learn more about our Conservation Stamp Set.  

Klamath Bird Observatory’s Mountain Bird Conservation Fundraiser

Save the Date –September 23rd! (Registration opens August 18)

To learn more about this International Migratory Bird Day event and to register visit www.klamathbird.org.

Our 2017 conservation birding event from 4:30-6:00pm features:

  • New York Times best seller Noah Strycker
  • Unveiling of Klamath Bird Observatory’s 2017 Conservation Science Stamp
  • Science and conservation in the  Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
  • Hors d’oeuvres and no-host bar

This Saturday afternoon event will bring our community together in dialogue focused on birding and bird conservation. Please join us to celebrate a love for birds and birding and to support science-driven conservation.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER NOAH STRYCKER — Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World

In September, 2015, Oregonian Noah Strycker set a new world record by seeing 6,042 bird species in one year. His Big Year bested a British couple breaking their 2008 record by over 1,500 species. Birders around the world followed Noah’s global birding adventure on the Audubon Society’s blog. Now, Noah’s latest book Birding Without Borders chronicles his quest to break the world birding record.

Put your stamp on local and national bird and habitat conservation; all attendees will receive a Conservation Stamp Set including:

  • 2017-18 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp
  • Klamath Bird Observatory’s 2017 Conservation Science Stamp

With additional donations attendees are invited to join us for space-limited conservation birding add-on events:

  • VIP Reception 3:00-4:30pm: Meet featured speaker, Noah Strycker
    • Receive a signed copy of Noah’s Best Seller “The Thing With Feathers”
    • Hors d’oeuvres and no-host bar
  • Exclusive Field Trips on on Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24
    • Birding with Noah Strycker and KBO Executive Director John Alexander
    • Great Grey Owl trip with Harry Fuller
    • Presidential trip with current and former KBO Presidents Shannon Rio and Harry Fuller


  • City of Ashland and Kinsman Foundation
  • Home Adviser, Rogue Valley Audubon Society, Bob Thomas and John & Lori Thomas
  • Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop and Red Fin
  • Buzz Parent

Please consider sponsoring KBO’s Mountain Bird Conservation Fundraiser
Call Jacob McNab at 541-201-0866 or eMail MountainBird@klamathbird.org.

Informing Science-based Evaluation and Expansion of Protected Areas

***NEWS RELEASE: May 8, 2017 6:15 AM PDT***

John Alexander, Executive Director, Klamath Bird Observatory, 541-890-7067, jda@klamathbird.org

Ashland, OR – New study demonstrates an improved approach to ensure protected areas enhance and conserve biodiversity. The results of the study were used to inform expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

A team of researchers from the Klamath Bird Observatory, Point Blue Conservation Science, and other partner organizations used big data and fine-scaled modeling to 1) evaluate an existing network of protected areas in the Klamath Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and 2) to identify and prioritize new areas for protection. The study used birds as indicators of important habitats and biodiversity.

The researchers found that the region’s protected areas, including seven National Parks and Monuments, were protecting coniferous forest habitat. However, adequate amounts of grassland and oak woodland habitats were not being protected. Birds that are associated with these under-protected habitats have been identified as at-risk at both national and regional scales and the conservation of grasslands and oak woodlands has become a priority.

Results from the study identified some protected areas where grassland and oak woodland birds did occur, as well as additional areas that, if protected, would increase the amount of priority birds protected by the region’s Parks and Monuments. Specifically, these priority habitats occur within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and on adjacent multiple-use lands. This scientific insight informed science-driven recommendations to expand the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. With support from Oregon’s US Senators Wyden and Merkley, President Obama signed an executive order on January 12, 2017 increasing the size of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by more than 45,000 acres resulting in more protection for grassland and oak woodland birds.

“This study offers robust scientific evidence that expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument provides critical protection to an amazing ecosystem found nowhere else in the world, and will serve Oregonians well for decades to come,” said Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley. “National monuments are American treasures that belong to the people.”

This study and its application offer an improved science-based approach to evaluating protected areas and identifying and prioritizing new areas for protection. The results were published today by the Ecological Society of America in a special feature of the journal Ecosphere, Science For Our National Parks’ Second Century. The special feature highlights the crucial value of long-term monitoring and scientific inquiry and the role of science in informing natural resource management and conservation on public lands. This research was completed with support from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service and contributes to the Partners in Flight bird conservation initiative. A gigantic amount of data used for this research was made available through the Avian Knowledge Network. The paper can be accessed online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.1799/full.

Citation: Alexander, J. D., J. L. Stephens, S. Veloz, L. Salas, J. Rousseau, C. J. Ralph, and D. A. Sarr. 2017. Using regional bird density distribution models to evaluate protected area networks and inform conservation planning. Ecosphere 00(00):e01799. 10.1002/ecs2.1799

Click here to download a zipped press package: News Release – Science informs protected area evaluation and expansion (RELEASE DATE 5-8-2017)

Click here to download a PDF of this News Release: News Release – Science informs protected area evaluation and expansion (RELEASE DATE 5-8-2017)


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About Klamath Bird Observatory:

Klamath Bird Observatory advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. We work in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs. Visit Klamath Bird Observatory at www.klamathbird.org.

About Point Blue Conservation Science:

At Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue), our 140 staff and seasonal scientists conserve nature through science, partnerships and outreach, on land and at sea. Using our long-term data, we identify and evaluate both natural and human-driven change over time. We work hand-in-hand with governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as private interests to help ensure that every dollar invested in conservation yields the most for biodiversity and our communities. Visit Point Blue at www.PointBlue.org.

About Avian Knowledge Network:

Avian Knowledge Network is a network of people, data, and technology working together to improve bird conservation, management, and research across organizational boundaries and spatial scales. Visit the Pacific Northwest node of the Avian Knowledge Network at www.AvianKnowledgeNorthwest.net.

About Partners in Flight:

Partners in Flight is a network of organizations advancing the conservation of birds via sound science, integrated conservation partnerships, habitat delivery, and targeted citizen outreach. Visit Partners in Flight at www.PartnersinFlight.org.


Klamath Bird Observatory
PO Box 758
Ashland, Oregon 97520


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