KBO is looking to fill two positions Nest-Searching Technician and a Nest-Searching Intern for our Oregon Vesper Sparrow demography research program. We are contributing to a range-wide study to understand the causes of decline in this imperiled subspecies. Primary duties will include nest-searching and color-band resighting in meadows of the western Cascades and occasional data entry or other tasks based.
Over the last several years, KBO field crews spent their spring mornings diligently watching Vesper Sparrows go about their business. The birds typically arrive from their wintering grounds in mid to late April and begin to settle in for the summer breeding season. We have witnessed the males defending their territories and attracting mates, watched as they paired up and the females began nest building, and observed them incubating their eggs and raising their young (for an intern’s account of his experience nest-searching, read his blog on the KBO Call Note). Field crews have located over 100 nests! Preliminary findings suggest nest success is within the expected range for a ground-nesting bird and likely not a cause for concern, although late-season hail and snow in 2021 caused the failure of many nests. Changes in spring weather patterns may exacerbate threats to this species in high-elevation meadows.
Resighting efforts have taken place annually to keep track of how many of these banded birds survive and return to the area year after year. Early findings show lower return rates for juveniles, which is not surprising because young birds are more likely to leave home and disperse to a different site for their first breeding season. After resighting efforts are completed in 2023, we will estimate the annual survivorship of adult males and females and fledglings. Join us in the endeavor to understand the Oregon Vesper Sparrow!