Tag: Klamath Bird Observatory

SCIENCE BRIEF: KBO Research Associate and Yurok Tribe Collaborate on California Condor Reintroduction Feasibility Study

California Condors are not only the largest avian scavenger in North America, they are a species of cultural significance for the Yurok Tribe of Northern California. Yurok ancestral territory is in the heart of the historical range of California Condors and the tribe has been working with Klamath Bird Observatory research associate, Dr. Jared Wolfe, to assess the feasibility of condor reintroduction. The researchers used Turkey Vultures and Common Ravens as surrogate species to determine the amount of lead and mercury avian scavengers are exposed to in Humboldt and Del Norte counties of Northern California. Their results were published by the American Ornithological Society’s Condor: Ornithological Applications journal as “Feasibility of California Condor recovery in northern California, USA: Contaminants in Surrogate Turkey Vultures and Common Ravens”.

“Lead poisoning is the number one threat to condor recovery thus far and an understanding of exposure in local avian scavengers is crucial prior to establishment of new release sites” says Chris West, Senior Wildlife Biologist with the Yurok Tribe. “Condors ingest lead from scavenging animals or offal from animals that were shot with lead bullets. In addition to lead, mercury exposure from feeding on washed-up marine mammals may represent an additional, at this time unassessed, threat that reintroduced condors must contend with.”

Here are three important highlights from the study:
• Although lead levels detected in ravens were lower than levels detected from a similar study conducted in Wyoming, there was still a significant increase in lead exposure during the hunting season in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
• Lead detected in vultures and ravens increased with distance from coastline suggesting a connection to the greater availability of inland public lands accessible to hunters in Humboldt and Del Norte counties where the study occurred.
• Mercury detected in vultures and ravens decreased with distance from the coastline indicating that scavenging birds are likely exposed to mercury from marine resources rather than at inland locations in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

“These results highlight some of the conservation challenges associated with condor reintroduction” says Dr. Wolfe. “Recognizing these challenges, the Yurok Tribe has done an excellent job working with the hunting community to switch from lead ammunition to condor friendly non-lead ammunition.”

The researchers believe that continued outreach to hunting communities will limit the amount of lead on the landscape for all avian scavengers and, crucially, for future populations of condors. Hunter outreach and a California-wide ban on the use of lead ammunition for hunting scheduled to go into effect in 2019 may present new opportunities for California Condor recovery in Yurok ancestral territory and beyond.

CLICK HERE to view the paper Feasibility of California Condor recovery in northern California, USA: Contaminants in Surrogate Turkey Vultures and Common Ravens by Christopher J. West, Jared D. Wolfe, Andrew Wiegardt, and Tiana Williams-Claussen.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Yurok Tribe’s California Condor Reintroduction Program.

KBO’s Executive Director Featured in Point Blue Quarterly!

John Alexander, KBO co-founder and Executive Director is featured in the current edition of the Point Blue Quarterly. Conservation Frontman: John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory describes the energy, focus, and passion John brings to the enduring Point Blue—KBO partnership. Point Blue leaders and John himself share perspectives of their collaborations that are making a positive difference.

CLICK HERE to view the Conservation Frontman: John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory article in the latest Point Blue Quarterly.

SCIENCE BRIEF: KBO Researchers Study the Effects of Climate on Hawaiian Birds and Their Food Webs

Native Hawaiian birds are renowned for their beauty and unique evolutionary history, where numerous species rely on native plants for food in the form of nectar and fruit. Many of these important native plants that provision food for birds rely on climatic cues – such as rain and temperature – to time their flowering and fruiting activity. Understanding how birds respond to climatically-induced changes in their food web represents an important step towards predicting the effects of climate change on vulnerable wildlife species.

To better understand these complex relationships, Klamath Bird Observatory research associate, Dr. Jared Wolfe, and KBO research advisor, Dr. C. John Ralph, used data collected from the Big Island of Hawaii to measure long-term relationships between changes in climate, fruit and flower production, and the timing of breeding and molting in native and non-native birds. Their results were recently published in the scientific journal Ecology in a paper titled “Bottom-up Processes Influence the Demography and Life-cycle Phenology of Hawaiian Bird Communities”.

“Flower and fruit abundance at our study site were strongly affected by seasonal changes in rain, which had cascading effects on the timing of important lifecycle events of birds, such as breeding seasonality”. says lead author Wolfe. “Our results suggest that changes in climate can cascade up the food chain and strongly affect wildlife at higher trophic levels.”

Results from the analysis suggest that three native birds that commonly feed on nectar, the ʻiʻiwi, ʻapapane and Hawaiʻi ʻamakihi, all timed their breeding season with the availability of ʻōhiʻa lehua flowers, which in-turn, used heavy rains to time flowering activity.

“Our project is one of the first from Hawaii to combine long-term climate, plant phenology and bird monitoring data to disentangle these complex trophic relationships” says co-author Ralph. “These types of studies are rare because they rely on long-term and labor-intensive field work. But, findings from long-term studies such as this one are critically important because they provide insights into how changes in climate might affect native Hawaiian birds.”

CLICK HERE to view/download a “Bottom-up Processes Influence the “Demography and Life-cycle Phenology of Hawaiian Bird Communities” by Wolfe, Ralph, and Wiegardt.

Year of the Bird July Call to Action: Take a Child into Nature

The Year of the Bird July call to action is to take a child into nature. Even with school out, summer is a great time to learn! Spending time with children outside, and discovering new things, may spark a lifelong passion and value of environmental stewardship—plus it’s an easy and cheap venue for fun!

Today, children are spending less and less time outdoors. A Nature Conservancy poll showed that only about 10% of kids spend time outside every day. Studies have shown that bird watching and other outdoor recreation activity can help kids build creativity, attention span, confidence, and happier and healthier lives.

To help the young people in your life get started early as a birder visit this National Geographic page for some great family friendly birding activities such as “Being a Detective” to identify a species or discover where birds live. You can also visit Klamath Bird Observatory’s K-12 Education Curriculum, programming in science and outdoor education that align with state and national standards. Use this month’s call to action to get the children in your life out into nature.

CLICK HERE to visit the National Geographic Society’s website for information about helping young people in your life get started early as birders.

CLICK HERE to visit KBO’s K-12 Education Curriculum with science- and place-based programming and materials available for download.

If you haven’t already heard, 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 at the Oregon Country Fair!

Klamath Bird Observatory will again join in the festivities at the Oregon Country Fair (OCF) this year. The uniquely-Oregon arts, crafts, music, and well-being fair takes place July 13-15.

KBO shares an information booth with the Master Gardeners in Community Village—look for the Yellow-breasted Chats! We will lead a morning Birds of the Fair walk and we are a joyful participant in the OCF StewardShip Program as a Passport Station. OCF’s StewardShip Program celebrates the Fair’s sustainability and philanthropy. Check out the full line up of workshops and performances at the Stewardship in Xavanadu and to participate in the OCF Scavenger Hunt. Stop by our booth to learn about the Birds of the Fair and get your StewardShip Passport Book stamped!

CLICK HERE to visit the OCF website for information about the fair’s circus, comedy, dance, poetry, and musical lineups, activities and workshops, food, and nearby lodging.

About the Oregon Country Fair (from OCF website):

The Oregon Country Fair (OCF) creates events and experiences that nourish the spirit, explore living artfully and authentically on earth, and transform culture in magical, joyous and healthy ways.

The OCF is an annual three-day festival offering the finest in entertainment, hand-made crafts, delectable food and information sharing. The Fair takes place in Veneta, Oregon, about 15 miles west of Eugene. The Fair takes place in a wooded setting with its own water and communication systems, security team, recycling service, and much, much more. We enjoy a mutually cooperative relationship with our neighbors and a solid niche in the Veneta community. Started in 1969 as a benefit for an alternative school, the OCF has a rich and varied history of alternative arts and performance promotion, educational opportunities, land stewardship and philanthropy.

Ecology of the Birds of Crater Lake National Park Program Series Announced

Crater Lake National Park and Klamath Bird Observatory will present a bird ecology program series this summer and into the fall. These park ranger-led programs will feature a visit to KBO’s bird monitoring station within Crater Lake National Park.

The programs will be on Thursdays, but not every Thursday—please check the Crater Lake bird banding visit flyer for scheduled dates. The first program is next Thursday June 28!

Don’t miss this opportunity to visit KBO’s biologists in the field, see the birds they are studying up close—guided by an expert park ranger.

Click here to view the Crater Lake bird banding visit flyer with more information and how to register for these special events.

KBO is also offering public visits to another of our bird monitoring station in the Upper Klamath Lake area by arrangement. Email Bob Frey for more information.

KBO’s Fundamentals of Songbird Banding Workshop is filling up—register soon!

Just a few spots are still open for KBO’s Fundamentals of Songbird Banding Workshop August 6-10, 2018 at our Upper Klamath Field Station. This is a North American Banding Council-approved training session with NABC-based content and NABC-certified Trainer instructors. All registration fees go directly to funding our long-term monitoring and banding training program. Registration closes July 20, 2018.

Participants will receive training in bird safety, bird handling, mist net use and maintenance, data collection, bird identification, bird banding, and sexing and ageing techniques through both hands-on instruction while capturing birds and numerous seminars. The workshop program has been developed for people with little or no bird handling and banding experience, although is also appropriate for those with intermediate skills for which it will build upon their existing skills and knowledge.

The registration fee is $1,600 per person and is non-refundable. Registration includes all meals (including beverages and snacks) beginning with dinner Monday August 6 and ending with lunch Friday August 10. Space is available for free tent camping at KBO’s rustic Upper Klamath Field Station. There is lodging available nearby at several Rocky Point area resorts and lodges (all with rooms and/or cabins as well as RV and tent camping) and a few options on Airbnb (search Rocky Point or Klamath Falls, Oregon). A little further away are Running Y Ranch Resort (about 20 minute drive) and hotels in Klamath Falls (about 40 minutes).

For more information about the workshop (including workshop agenda, nearby lodging info) and to register click here. Registration will closes July 20, 2018.

Come for a top-notch banding learning experience and help keep our long-running monitoring and training program going. For more information and answers to any questions please contact Bob Frey at bif<AT>klamathbird.org.

CLICK HERE for more information about bird banding training opportunity.

2018 BioBlitz! Citizen Scientist Bird Count in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

“More than 85 people fanned out across the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument early
Saturday May 26 on a mission to count birds. In small groups, birding experts and citizen-scientists
began at daybreak surveying 11 different sites within the monument.

A total of 112 bird species were identified during this BioBlitz, including both resident and
migrating species. “It’s remarkable that during one eight-hour period nearly half the number of
species that have been reported during the entire month of May in all of Jackson and Siskiyou
counties were recorded,” says Klamath Bird Observatory Executive Director John Alexander.

A BioBlitz is a communal citizen-scientist effort to record as many species as possible within a
designated time and place. “A BioBlitz is a great way to engage the community and connect them to their monument while generating useful data for science and conservation. They are also an excuse for naturalists, scientists, and curious members of the public to get together in the great outdoors for fun and to contribute something meaningful.” explained Howard Hunter, a board member for the Friends of the Monument.” -From the Friends of the Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument’s BioBlitz Press Release.

Read more in the Friends of the Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument’s BioBlitz Press Release.

KBO Research Documents Short-Distance Migrations of Breeding and Molting Birds

Birds in the western United States time their breeding and molting (annual replacement of feathers) behaviors with seasonally abundant food resources. Understanding how birds move across the western landscape to acquire the food they need to successfully breed and molt represent critical pieces of information for wildlife managers.

To measure bird movements in the western United States, researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory and U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station have been capturing and marking birds throughout northern California and southern Oregon. These data have now been used to analyze movements of breeding and molting birds to better understand the habitat requirements of multiple species throughout their annual life-cycle.

“After the breeding season, many species were found to move away from their breeding grounds before they began molting” says Jared Wolfe, co-author and KBO research associate. “My graduate student leading this research, Andrew Wiegardt, and I, in addition to the KBO scientific team, believe that dry, late-summer environments prevent many birds from remaining on their breeding grounds late in the season. To find the insect and fruit-rich habitats necessary to molt, many birds left their breeding territories and made small-scale movements to environments with more food, such as wet meadows and riparian forest”.

Results from this recent research highlight that most migratory species are reliant on multiple locations and habitats in northern California and southern Oregon to breed and molt prior to fall migration. For long-distance migrants, such as Wilson’s Warblers, these different locations used for breeding and molting often occurred on an altitudinal gradient where birds tended to breed in lower elevations during the spring, and then moved upslope to molt at higher elevations late in the summer.

The findings of this study were published in the March 2017 issue of Journal of Field Ornithology and the October 2017 issue of Ecology and Evolution.


KBO Research Associate Dr. Jared Wolfe received his BS and MS from Humboldt State University. He completed his PhD at Louisiana State University studying landscape demography of Amazonian birds. Dr. Wolfe is a science advisor for Costa Rica Bird Observatories, co-founder of the Louisiana Bird Observatory, North American Banding Council certified trainer and current board member serving as a trainer-at-large, and a permitted master bander in the USA and Brazil. He regularly coordinates bird monitoring and statistical workshops in the USA, Costa Rica, Peru and Brazil. Dr. Wolfe is an Assistant Professor at Michigan Tech University.

Jared’s affiliation with KBO has been long and fruitful, resulting in multiple scientific publications focused on migratory and resident bird demography as well as the influence of climate on migratory bird condition, molt patterns and novel ageing systems for tropical birds.


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