Being a birder means a lot of different things to many different people. Some birders go out every week to count and list as many species as they can find, while others have a yard list of the birds they identify from their window. Read below for a guest blog from Eric DeFonso, a Bird Conservancy seasonal field crew leader for our Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. Eric shows how sometimes, birding by sight is not always feasible or possible.
Bird Conservancy has been monitoring Mexican Spotted Owls since 2014. Learn why we are working on the project and the threats this elusive owl endures.
Every year, biologists and technicians traverse on foot across mountains, prairies, and deserts to survey breeding birds under the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. The second largest breeding bird monitoring program in North America, IMBCR’s footprint stretches across private and public land from the Great Plains to the Great Basin. Check out this StoryMap for a closer look at this impressive program!
Bird Conservancy of the Rockies implements wintering grassland bird monitoring throughout the Chihuahuan Desert of northern Mexico and the southern United States. The data we collecst inform Full Annual-Cycle conservation strategies of grassland bird species in decline. We train field crews in English and Spanish in order to implement consistent and high quality data collection across the international border. We highly value the expertise of our conservation partners in Mexico.and our have embraced the bilingual and multicultural component of our programs in the region.
In winter, many of North America’s grassland birds inhabit remote and unpopulated areas within the Chihuahuan Desert of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. For this reason, much of the nonbreeding period of grassland birds remains a mystery to bird researchers and conservationists. Unfortunately, many grassland species are steeply declining and the lack of knowledge on these species and their habitats during the nonbreeding season can pose significant challenges for conservation. Until we identify and understand the struggles and needs of nonbreeding grassland birds, population declines are likely to continue. Conservation strategies backed by science are key to ensuring that grasslands persist so that the birds that inhabit them can survive the winter and return safely to the breeding grounds to sing or sit on a nest again.
Bird Conservancy runs many scientific, educational, and outreach programs that promote birds and their habitats and inspire people’s love of nature, and we are proud of the impact we have on our communities. In one year alone, we enhanced over 29,000 acres across six states, reached almost 6,000 participants through virtual outreach opportunities, and monitored one million acres to determine bird responses to management and restoration efforts. But none of these programs would be successful without our talented and dedicated staff. In this post, we highlight one employee who works behind the scenes year-round to implement one of the largest breeding bird monitoring programs in North America – Matthew McLaren, the coordinator for the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program at Bird Conservancy. He’s been a dedicated member of our organization since 2011, and he’s “what makes IMBCR work year in and year out.”
Bird Conservancy and our partners spent much of 2021 implementing the first phase of a network of bird tracking stations across the Great Plains. It’s been an exhilarating, exhausting and rewarding year installing Motus stations at amazing places across central Flyway. We worked closely many partners, put 18 new Motus stations on the map, planned future sites, and watched as our towers detect tagged birds! The work continues with Motus stations installed throughout the Rocky Mountain West and northern Mexico, coupled with training opportunities for partners and deployment of over 100 radio tags on grassland birds.
Species monitoring is a vital tool for conservation biology. Monitoring provides baseline information that is required for effective design and evaluation of conservation policies and management strategies. Monitoring studies are particularly important for declining species such as the Black Swift. Black Swifts have experienced range-wide population declines in the US and Canada, but the mechanisms underlying population declines are poorly understood. Our proposed monitoring network will provide baseline sampling to precisely estimate abundance, regional population size, and population trend data through time to provide valuable information for this species’ road to recovery.
The Chihuahuan Desert population of Northern Aplomado Falcon shrunk dramatically a century ago and was lost from the southwestern U.S. A tiny population survived in Mexico, but its continued survival is tenuous due to habitat loss and other factors. A tri-national partnership is monitoring this population’s breeding success and conducting a demographic study that includes satellite telemetry of juvenile falcons. What we are learning is guiding conservation and helping gain support from private landowners on the ground. The recent appearance of a young male falcon in New Mexico fosters hope that the Northern Aplomado Falcon might even be able to someday recolonize the Southwestern U.S.