Join Klamath Bird Observatory and Vesper Meadow Education Program for the premiere of the short film “From the Field – A Study of the Oregon Vesper Sparrow” by Daniel Thiede. We will hear from Program Director Jeanine Moy about the restoration work and connection to the community being done at Vesper Meadow. Then Dr. Sarah Rockwell will give a brief talk about the research KBO is conducting on the Oregon Vesper Sparrow, followed by a short walk in Vesper Meadow to a Motus node. The afternoon will conclude with a showing of the film, with time afterward for discussion and questions. Come learn about this little brown bird and experience one of the beautiful places it calls home!
Refreshments and light appetizers are included. Dress for the weather as this event will take place outside at Vesper Meadow and in an open-sided barn. Wear sturdy walking shoes if you plan to join the walk.
This event is hosted at Vesper Meadow and will be from 4 pm – 6 pm on October 10th. This event is limited by the number of attendees. Register below to reserve your spot.
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 that will be emailed to you once you register for the event. Paper copies will be available at the event. Please do not attend the event if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Masks are not required but wear based on comfortability.
Learn how scientists are monitoring the Oregon Vesper Sparrow, an imperiled species estimated to be down to around 2,000 individuals. See how nests are found, how fledglings are monitored, and how annual survival is observed using Oregon’s first MOTUS network, currently in place at Vesper Meadow. See how the ongoing data collection and partnerships with scientists with the Klamath Bird Observatory help inform our restoration efforts to help save this species from extinction. Support for this video comes from the Oregon Birding Association.
Learn how native plants provide prime nesting habitat for the Oregon Vesper Sparrow, an imperiled species whose population is down to around 2,000 individuals and includes over 80 nesting pairs found so far at Vesper Meadow. See how volunteers engage in converting areas of Vesper Meadow from invasive to native plants in an attempt to provide more nesting habitat and food for this namesake species. Hear from our partners in restoration at The Understory Initiative who are helping to monitor how creek restoration efforts affect water flows and plant populations where Oregon Vesper Sparrows build nests and raise their young.
Fall 2020 saw the installation of the very first Motus station in Oregon at the Vesper Meadow Restoration Preserve in partnership with the Vesper Meadow Education Program. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a collaborative research network using automated radio telemetry stations to study the movements of small organisms. Tags are small enough to be carried by birds, bats, and even bees. Motus tags emit a radio frequency that can be detected by a nearby Motus station anywhere in the world, and the number of stations is quickly growing.
We are using Motus technology to enhance our ability to track movements of the at-risk Oregon Vesper Sparrow. In 2021, we searched for nests of this ground-dwelling bird at Vesper Meadow, and placed Motus- compatible LifeTags on 12 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 post‐fledging period when they are particularly vulnerable, and explore dispersal of birds returning to nearby meadows next spring. We also set up an array of 18 Motus nodes around the edge of Vesper Meadow to supplement our main Motus station there. Four 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 and habitat use. We collected tens of thousands of detections of our tagged fledglings from the node network over the months of June-October – and likely a lot of radio frequency “noise” from other stray signals – and we look forward to sorting through and analyzing those data this winter.
The Oregon Vesper Sparrow is a subspecies of conservation concern, and it has been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act due to its low population size and declining trend. We have noted low rates of fledged young returning to our field sites at Lily Glen and Vesper Meadow for their first spring as breeding adults. Motus technology will help us determine the cause – are young birds having trouble surviving the vulnerable post-fledging stage, or their risky first round-trip migration and winter? Or are they simply moving away from the meadows where they were born and choosing other nearby meadows to try raising their own young? A handheld radio telemetry antenna will allow us to more easily locate any tagged birds that disperse away from our main field sites to other nearby meadows next spring.
In addition to enhancing our Vesper Sparrow research, the Motus station at Vesper Meadow has detected two Lewis’s Woodpeckers migrating from MPG Ranch lands in Montana, one Swainson’s Thrush that was banded in interior British Columbia, and a Western Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover from coastal British Columbia – 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 the USFWS, MPG Ranch, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, and private donations.
Click here to learn more about our work with the Oregon Vesper Sparrow.
The Vesper Sparrow is sometimes affectionately referred to as a “little brown job”. This is what birdwatchers call those streaky brown sparrows and dull-colored females that we all struggle with identifying. But if no one knows about this subtle songbird, how can it ever be protected?