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Tag: conservation

Supporting Conservation with International Travel

Join Klamath Bird Observatory and Mantiqueira Bird Observatory (OAMa) for a 9-day exploration of Brazil to promote bird and habitat conservation beyond borders. Enjoy hiking and birding in the cloud forests of Brazil with local scientists leading the way. Time to explore a local town and enjoy Brazilian cuisine. Attend a bird photography workshop and watch OAMa science in action at their banding station.

With all 12 seats filled, this trip funds a fantastic opportunity for budding biologists.

OAMa logoescrito (72ppi 4x)Klamath Bird Observatory is well known for its broad international reach, focusing on partnerships and capacity building across the ranges of our shared birds. KBO’s bird banding internship program has trained over 283 interns from more than 17 countries. OAMa is a fruit of this capacity-building program, which is now running its training program in Brazil. As part of the continued partnership between these two observatories, we are pleased to announce a new internship exchange program! After training in their home country, biologists will have the opportunity to visit and train at the other observatory. KBO will host a student from OAMa for three or six months each year, and OAMa will host a student from KBO for up to three months at their field station in Brazil, joining the local crew at the year-round bird monitoring on the Mantiqueira Highlands.

In addition to supporting the intern exchange program, this trip will fund OAMa’s banding station for an ENTIRE YEAR! That includes six interns and one banding coordinator. Currently, OAMa is the only banding training program in Brazil.

The trip takes place April 12th – 20th, with travel to and from the U.S. extending the dates as needed on both ends. The cost is $5000 per person; this includes hotels, food (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and transportation (to and from the airport and during the trip). Hotel accommodation includes a double occupancy or single occupancy with a private bathroom. The only thing not included is airfare from the US to Brazil.

A $2500 deposit is required to reserve your seat; final payment is due by February 10. Proof of up-to-date Covid vaccination and liability waiver are also due at that time. Covid and liability waiver can be found here. A portion of the total fee is tax deductible; the specific amount will depend on the number of attendees. Both the deposit and final payment are non-refundable unless a replacement is found. We reserve the right to cancel before February 10th if the trip does not fill with a minimum of seven attendees.

You can view the Brazil Trip Itinerary here. Subject to change.

Recently Luiza, co-founder of OAMa, hosted a Zoom presentation to go over details and answer questions about this trip. You can view the recording here.

If you have questions, you can email Elva at

Klamath Bird Observatory follows CDC guidelines. KBO events are being offered with COVID-19 safety as KBO’s primary concern. Proof of vaccination will be required for all in-person participants. All individuals attending an event must also fill out the Waiver of Liability form. Please do not attend the event if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Masks are not required but wear based on comfortability.

“Forest for the Birds Webinar”: Effectiveness Monitoring – Evaluating the Effects of Forest Management on Bird Populations

Forest for the Birds

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Forest Ecology Working Group, National Conservation Training Center, and Migratory Bird Program have developed a 12-part monthly lecture series to address the 50-year decline of 3 billion birds through partnerships, conservation science, and forest management. The series tells a compelling story about forest bird population declines, partnership opportunities, and forest management actions that can support bird population recovery and sustainability. Klamath Bird Observatory’s executive director John Alexander will be hosting a webinar on January 18th at 10 am PT, “Effectiveness Monitoring – Evaluating the Effects of Forest Management on Bird Populations”.

John will be discussing the monitoring triad: implementation, effectiveness, and validation monitoring. The data management tools that allow synthesis over large areas over long time periods. How population models address issues through management and the importance of feedback loops.

Click Here to register for the webinar.


Expanding Research with Cutting-Edge Technology


Oregon Vesper Sparrow (c) Frank Lospalluto

In recent years, we have expanded the project with the deployment of archival GPS tags to track migration and overwinter locations of Oregon Vesper Sparrows that breed in the Rogue Basin. We successfully captured 10 males at our Howard Prairie study site in 2020 and placed GPS backpacks on them using a leg-loop harness. Because the GPS tags are very small, and the batteries are not powerful enough to transmit data, tagged birds need to be recaptured the following year to retrieve the stored data.

In 2021, we located and recaptured four of these GPS backpack-wearing males! Three of them had fully functioning tags with fall migration and/or wintering locations recorded, and we look forward to sharing these exciting new results soon. In 2022, we tagged 15 more birds at our Rogue Basin study site, as well as worked with partners in the Willamette Valley to tag 10 more birds there. In 2023, we recaptured 5 of these birds and are excited to analyze the novel location data on these tags! This subspecies has never been tracked year-round before, and our work will uncover critical information about the migratory routes and overwintering areas used by this imperiled subspecies. This will help answer a question essential for future conservation efforts – what challenges might these birds be facing during migration and winter? Do birds breeding in the Rogue Basin and Willamette Valley use the same migration routes and winter locations? If not, how might these conservation challenges differ for disparate breeding populations?

To read more about this effort and see photos, check out the Klamath Call Note blog at How to Track an Oregon Vesper Sparrow. Our GPS research was made possible with funding from the Carpenter Foundation, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, and Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund.

Vesper Meadow Motus Antennae (c) Klamath Bird Observatory
Vesper Meadow Motus Computer (c) Klamath Bird Observatory

The year 2020 also saw the installation of the very first Motus station in Oregon at the Vesper Meadow Restoration Preserve, supported by Montana’s MPG Ranch. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a collaborative research network using automated radio-telemetry arrays to study the movements of small organisms. Tags are small enough to be carried by birds, bats, and even insects. Motus tags emit a radio frequency that can be detected by a nearby Motus station anywhere in the world. Our ongoing research includes tracking local Oregon Vesper Sparrow movements using Motus technology at this site, and migratory movements as the western Motus network develops. Further, our Motus station will provide location data for other research projects, recording any tagged organism that passes by on its own migratory journey. The east coast has a well-established Motus network that has led to exciting new discoveries in animal migration. We are excited to be at the forefront of developing a Motus network in the western U.S.

In 2021 – 2023, we searched for nests of this ground-dwelling bird at Vesper Meadow and placed Motus-compatible LifeTags on 35 Oregon Vesper Sparrow nestlings that were nearly ready to fledge. LifeTags are solar-powered and emit a signal every few minutes during daylight hours for the lifetime of the bird. The automated “resighting” and location estimation from this new technology will help us study habitat use, movements, and survival of young birds during the vulnerable post‐fledging period, and explore the dispersal of returning birds to nearby meadows in the following spring. We also set up an array of Motus nodes at Vesper Meadow to supplement our main Motus station there. A subset of the nodes formed a mini-grid around two of the nests with tagged nestlings, and this will serve to pilot the use of this technology to track precise fledgling locations. We collected tens of thousands of detections of our tagged fledglings from the node network over the months of June – October 2022, and we will analyze those data, plus this new data collected in 2023, this winter. A handheld telemetry antenna and Motus nodes placed in nearby meadows will allow us to more easily find any tagged birds that disperse to other meadows in the future.

In 2022, one of the fledglings tagged in 2021 passed by the Motus station, pinging off the tower three times between April 24 and May 13. This was very exciting! Because this individual did not seem to stay in this area to breed, we would never have known it was there – and that it had survived the winter – without the Motus tag. In addition to enhancing our Vesper Sparrow research, the Motus station at Vesper Meadow has detected many other birds as well, including fiveLewis’s Woodpeckers migrating from MPG Ranch lands in Montana, a Swainson’s Thrush, Western Sandpiper, and Semipalmated Plover that were tagged in British Columbia, and a Dunlin and Long-billed Dowitcher that was tagged in California’s Central Valley. So the station is assisting other researchers with their migration tracking projects as well! Our Motus station, node network, and tagging effort were made possible by MPG Ranch, USFWS, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Oregon Conservation and Recreated Fund, and private donations.

Motus LifeTag
KBO Volunteer with CTT Handheld (c) Kevin Spencer

KBO Research Biologist at Upcoming Living on Your Land Conference

The OSU Extension Land Steward Program and Rogue River Watershed Council will host the Living on Your Land Conference April 14, 2018 8 am to 6 pm at the Rogue Community College Redwood Campus in Grants Pass, Oregon. The one-day conference is for small farmers, small woodland owners, land owners or managers, wildlife enthusiasts, backyard gardeners and those interested in our region’s natural resources. KBO Research Biologist Dr. Sarah Rockwell will join a blue ribbon collection of foresters, botanists, biologists, working farmers, and other land management experts presenting more than two dozen 90-minute classes on a variety of topics related to natural resources and land management.

Sarah and Trout Unlimited Biologist Jay Doino will co-present the class “Birds and Fish That Reside in Your Streamside Backyard and How You Can Help Them”.

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Free Publication Informs Oak Habitat Conservation on Private Lands


October 12, 2015

Contact: Jaime Stephens,, (541) 944-2890 or
John Alexander,, (541) 890-7076

Oak Guide on Private Lands Cover Image (72ppi 5x6)

A document authored by Klamath Bird Observatory and Lomakatsi Restoration Project provides guidance for private landowners interested in implementing oak habitat restoration on their land. The document, entitled Restoring Oak Habitats in Southern Oregon and Northern California: A Guide for Private Landowners, emerged from a collaborative project involving a suite of private and public conservation partners, including the Bureau of Land Management (Medford District), US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Klamath Basin Audubon Society, Oregon State University, American Bird Conservancy, and Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network.

Historically oaks were widespread throughout the valleys and foothills of Oregon and California. However, the arrival of Europeans to the region in the mid-1800s marked the beginning of a period of decline for oak habitats and their associated wildlife. Many oak woodlands were converted for agricultural uses or urban development, and decades of fire suppression during the latter half of the 20th century has allowed less fire-resistant yet faster growing tree species, such as Douglas-fir, to encroach upon and displace oaks. Now, the majority of remaining oak habitats occur on private lands. Private landowners are thus presented with an opportunity to restore healthy, wildlife-rich oak ecosystems to the landscape and thereby leave a valuable legacy for future generations.

The new landowner guide focuses on conservation practices for Oregon white oak and California black oak habitats. The document begins with an overview of the importance and history of oak habitats and then provides life history information for the oak species of the region. The guide next provides detailed oak restoration guidelines for achieving desired conditions in oak stands, such as diverse habitat structures, large oak trees, and the presence of snags, downed wood native shrubs and perennial grasses. The guide also includes supplemental resources for private landowners, including a list of organizations that will assist with private lands restoration as well as step-by-step instructions for monitoring birds to track the return of native wildlife following oak restoration activities.

This accessible, attractive, and informative guide is available for free download on the Klamath Bird Observatory website (click here). Funding for this project came from the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, a Toyota TogetherGreen grant managed by Klamath Basin Audubon Society, and the Rural Schools and Community Development Act.


Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon,  is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation 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, and we now apply this model more broadly to care for our shared birds throughout their annual cycles. 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.

New study shows how wildfire changes forests and the birds that live there a decade after a mixed-severity fire in southwest Oregon

Quartz Fire in 2013, 12 years after the fire, with a healthy shrub understory and standing dead trees.  Photo copyright Jaime Stephens.


AUGUST 17, 2015

Contact: Jaime Stephens,, 541-944-2890

Ashland, Oregon: As much of the West is experiencing drought-related wildfire, new research on the effect of wildfire on forests and bird communities has just been released. Researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory just published results from a 10-year study looking at the effects of the 2001 Quartz Fire that burned in southwest Oregon. They found that not only did the forest structure change dramatically over time, but the bird community changed as well, with many species benefitting from the fire, a finding that was only obvious at the end of the 10- year period. In addition, the researchers documented the role of the fire’s severity showing that for half of the species affected by the fire their response was dependent on fire severity more so than simply whether the area was burned.

This study is important because it looks at the interacting effects of fire severity and time since fire, and provides forest managers with scientific evidence of how wildfire can create a forest that meets the needs of both wildlife and forest management, especially as forest restoration efforts are increasing. Their results are published in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications (

The Quartz Fire of 2001 burned over 6000 acres of mixed conifer broad-leafed forest (a mix of conifers and trees such as Pacific madrone and black oak). Wildfires are an important part of southwest Oregon forests, and usually burn in a pattern called mixed-severity – which means the fire burns unequally, in a patchwork of lightly to heavily burned areas interspersed with unburned patches. The resulting mosaic is important for wildlife and healthy forests.

“One important takeaway from our study was the interaction of fire severity and time since fire. Often, fire-related studies measure the short-term impact and compare only burned versus unburned areas, however, in this case, we saw bird species that initially decreased, increasing by the end of the study and doing so with greater magnitude in areas that were more severely burned,” says Jaime Stephens, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Science Director and the study’s lead author.

Olive-sided Flycatchers are often associated with burned forests, where open habitat, in combination with standing dead trees, creates abundant foraging opportunities.  Photo copyright James Livaudais.

Some of the birds that increased over the longer term were species like the Olive-sided Flycatcher, a species of conservation concern in the West. Immediately after the fire, this species was decreasing, but over time, it increased because areas that burned with high-severity resulted in standing dead trees where the flycatchers nest, and a shrub understory re-growth that provided the flycatchers with ample insect food. The House Wren, Lazuli Bunting, and Lesser Goldfinch had a similar story – they increased in areas that were burned and more so with increasing fire severity. The length of the study shed light on how a forest recovers from a mixed severity burn, detecting patterns that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

“After more than 100 years of fire suppression, and now exacerbated by the effects of climate change, our forests may be at-risk of burning at uncharacteristically high severities. Today, forest managers are trying to remedy this problem with thinning and controlled fire, however, these common techniques sometimes fail to replicate the impact of a natural wildfire,” says Jaime Stephens, Science Director, Klamath Bird Observatory.

“The findings of this study can inform management actions, particularly when objectives relate to maintaining or improving ecosystem function” says Jena Volpe, Fire Ecologist, Bureau of Land Management. “Additionally, having long-term post-fire data, relevant to southwest Oregon, greatly improves our understanding of vegetation succession and fuel condition changes across our diverse landscape.”

So what does the study mean for forest management? The challenge of managing western forests in the face of climate change, drought, and a history of fire suppression is not easy. Results from this study show the importance of management techniques that mimic conditions created by a mixed-severity fire: a patchwork forest type, an abundance of snags, and allowing natural regeneration of shrubs. Using these techniques will make it more likely future fires will burn in a mosaic pattern as well, which will benefit birds and create healthy forests for years to come.

This study was funded by the Joint Fire Sciences Program, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Medford District, and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 Title II.

Klamath Bird Observatory ( is fueled by partner-driven science programs. We use birds as indicators of the healthy and resilient ecosystems on which we all depend. Our science involves three integrated aspects: 1) long-term monitoring, 2) theoretical research, and 3) applied ecology. We bring our results to bear through science delivery involving partnership driven engagement in conservation planning, informing the critical decisions being made today that will have lasting influences on the health of our natural resources well into the future. Klamath Bird Observatory’s award-winning model was developed in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. We now apply this model more broadly throughout the Pacific Northwest. Plus, our intensive professional education and international capacity building programs expand our influence into Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Click here for a PDF of this press release.

Click here for a press packet with a PDF of this press release and high resolution images.


Recently published paper describes meaningful ecological units (i.e., Management Domains) for collaborative conservation in the Klamath Region


August 14, 2015 – For Immediate Release

Contact: John Alexander, jda[AT], 541-890-7067

Patterns of plant, amphibian, mammal, and bird distribution have been used to identify ecological boundaries in the Klamath Region of southern Oregon and northern California, one of the most biophysically complex areas in North America. These patterns are described in a paper, recently published in the Natural Areas Journal, written by collaborators from the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, Klamath Bird Observatory, and other organizations. “This paper represents our first collaborative effort to link biogeography with protected areas management in the Klamath Region,” says the papers lead author, Daniel Sarr (formerly with the National Park Service and now working with the US Geological Survey). John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Executive Director and a co-author on the paper added, “In the Klamath Region, natural resource managers are challenged with managing the complex array of environments that characterize the area. In this paper, we describe patterns that help delineate meaningful ecological units, or Management Domains, that are intended to advance collaborative natural resource management in the Region.”

The distributions of species described in the paper illustrate conceptual and spatial domains for natural areas management that provide an eco-regional framework for collaborative conservation. The paper describes a Maritime Management Domain in the western portion of the Region that is similar to other coastal areas. To the east, a Great Basin Domain that is similar to other Great Basin environments is also described. While conservation management approaches that have been tested in other areas of the west coast and Great Basin may be effectively applied in these two Domains, a third Eastern Klamath Management Domain, at the core of the Klamath Region, is more unique and presents novel management challenges. This third Domain has higher species richness and endemism than other environments in the western United States that are climatically similar, such as the southwest. Because the area is so unique, management approaches that have been successful in other areas may not be as easily applied in the Eastern Klamath Management Domain. Lead author Daniel Sarr explains further, “Because of its exceptional spatial complexity, it has not always been clear how management concepts and approaches developed in other areas of the West can best be used in the Klamath Region.”


However, the species that characterize the Eastern Klamath Domain may be the key to the conservation and management of natural areas in the Klamath Region. The Klamath Region will likely serve as an important refugia for a number of at-risk species that may become more threatened by climate change. Therefore management intended to help the Region’s unique array of native species persist into an uncertain future is becoming a priority. This paper presents an improved understanding of how such species are distributed across the region which, in combination with knowledge about the species’ habitat needs, can help inform design of the novel management approaches that may be needed in the Klamath Region.

Dr. Sarr concluded the following about these research results, “This new paper represents ongoing efforts to identify spatially explicit management domains and serves as a step forward. The work will undoubtedly be refined through ongoing observational science efforts being conducted by the Klamath Bird Observatory, National Park Service, and other regional partners.”

To access a copy of this new publication, Comparing Ecoregional Classifications for Natural Areas Management in the Klamath Region, USA in the Natural Areas Journal contact John Alexander (jda[AT], 541-890-7067) or click here.  Click here to view a PDF of this Science Brief and News Release.


About Klamath Bird Observatory

Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon, advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Klamath Bird Observatory is fueled by partner-driven science programs. We use birds as indicators of the healthy and resilient ecosystems on which we all depend. Our science involves three integrated aspects: 1) long-term monitoring, 2) theoretical research, and 3) applied ecology. We bring our results to bear through science delivery involving partnership driven engagement in conservation planning, informing the critical decisions being made today that will have lasting influences on the health of our natural resources well into the future.

Klamath Bird Observatory’s award-winning model was developed in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. We now apply this model more broadly throughout the Pacific Northwest. Plus, our intensive professional education and international capacity building programs expand our influence into Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.


KBO’s 2015 Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award Goes to Sandy Jilton


June 1, 2015

Contact: Marcella Rose Sciotto,, 541-201-0866

Klamath Bird Observatory is proud to announce that Sandy Jilton is the first recipient of our new
Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award.

Sandy Jilton receiving award from KBO's Marcella Sciotto

This award has been established to recognize individuals who demonstrate outstanding service as volunteers helping Klamath Bird Observatory fulfill its mission to advance bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Sandy Jilton is being recognized as the recipient of the Bullock’s Rose Oriole for her efforts to help make the Klamath Bird Observatory’s 2nd annual Mountain Bird Festival a success.

The Mountain Bird Festival is a community education event designed to foster the stewardship ethic needed to ensure thriving landscapes for humans and wildlife. This Festival represents a significant volunteer effort with nearly 50 community members chipping in over 1,200 volunteer hours to help put the event on. These volunteers help Klamath Bird Observatory staff with field trips, registration, vendors, planning, and much more.

Klamath Bird Observatory recognizes Sandy Jilton with the first Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award

for her volunteer work that was essential to the success of this year’s Festival. Sandy worked tirelessly

to coordinate our food and drink vendors. She spent hours to find the right vendors who best

represented our region’s food and beverage culture. She then worked with them to ensure their

participation benefitted their businesses while also helping us to meet the conservation oriented goals

of the Festival. In addition to this core aspect of her volunteer role, Sandy was always eager to help out

in any way that she could. Her endless enthusiasm, good cheer, and skillful execution made her a

delight to work with.

Over the past two years bird enthusiasts from all over the U.S. have flocked to Ashland, Oregon for

Klamath Bird Observatory’s award winning Mountain Bird Festival. The Festival is designed to raise funds

for bird conservation while celebrating the role citizens play in conservation as well as the glory of the

birds and wildlife of southern Oregon and northern California. The Festival offers more than 35 field

trips that explore portions of the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains, as well as the Klamath Basin, Shasta

Valley, the Klamath River, the Rogue watershed, and birding hotspots in and around Ashland and

Medford. Each year, more than 120 participants, many of which traveling from out of the area, come to

see some of southern Oregon’s unique bird species, and to contribute to bird conservation. In addition

to these contributions, participants spend an estimated $70,000 on lodging, meals, entertainment, and

more, demonstrating that birding means business and that the Mountain Bird Festival offers significant

economic benefits to our region.

By name, Klamath Bird Observatory’s new Bullock’s Rose Oriole Volunteer Award honors Stephanie

Bullock, the Festival’s 1st Volunteer Coordinator, and Marcella Rose Sciotto, the Mountain Bird Festival

Coordinator, who has made this Festival a successful volunteer-driven event.

Click here to read Talent’s News & Review profile and article on Sandy and her accomplishments.