Knapweed is a common pest on disturbed land, and as a perennial plant that can reproduce both by seed and creeping roots, it is a very successful invader. This sort of creeping perennial is very difficult to get rid of even with more active control methods, like herbicides. Biotic control is an alternative strategy that may increase effective weed suppression. Gall wasps lay their eggs inside the knapweed, forming stem galls on young knapweed plants, which slow the plant’s growth, diverting nutrients from flowers and seeds. Using gall wasps as biotic control, we aim to reduce the spread of knapweed and give native species a better opportunity to compete. Restoring disturbed land is a long-term endeavor, but it has to start somewhere, and gall wasps are just one piece of the puzzle in restoring Eastern Colorado rangelands.
Of the shorebirds species that breed in North America, a clear majority migrate to wintering grounds in the temperate and tropical regions of Central and South America. Shorebirds whose breeding and wintering grounds are far apart must replenish their fat reserves during migration. They do this by stopping at a chain of staging areas, such as the Texas Coast, Cheyenne Bottoms in Kansas, the Rainwater Basins in Nebraska, and the Prairie Potholes of the Dakota’s. Threats to shorebirds have become more diverse and widespread in recent decades and pose serious conservation challenges. Effective conservation requires a wide-ranging approach to identify and reduce threats throughout the flyway.
The Private Lands Wildlife Biologist (PLWB) program is a crucial pillar in Bird Conservancy’s three-pronged approach to avian conservation through science, education, and stewardship. Our PLWBs work across the western Great Plains and eastern Rocky Mountains, often in rural and remote communities. Their jobs are complex, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. Recently, several of our current Private Lands Wildlife Biologists (PLWBs) visited with their predecessors to hear their reflections on how working as a PLWB for Bird Conservancy influenced their future career path, capturing insights that to inform our current cohort of biologists and seeking inspiration after all the challenges of working in people-centric conservation during a global pandemic.
The cultural heritage of those that tend the land and call it home—from ranchers to Indigenous Peoples to ejidos—is closely tied to the fate of grasslands. Rural communities and economies depend on healthy grasslands and the services they provide which include aquifer recharge, productive rangelands, outdoor recreation and more. Despite their importance, the plight of grasslands has been largely overlooked, but a new initiative has launched which aims to chart a better future for this precious resource.
As our population grows, so does the footprint for housing, commercial businesses, and food production. Habitat loss is having a big impact on grassland and prairie birds, and private lands are critical to that story. Bird Conservancy is working with diverse partners, including land developers, to lighten our environmental impact and deploy innovative techniques to conserve iconic birds like the Burrowing Owl.
The grasslands of the Chihuahuan desert provide important overwintering habitat for over 90% of the migratory grassland species in western North America. Recently, our team joined partners and private landowners on a scenic tour through northern Mexico to visit some of Sustainable Grazing Network ranches that are working to conserve and restore grassland habitat for the benefit of people and birds.
Brown-capped Rosy-Finches nest at higher elevations than any other bird species in the United States, and their breeding distribution is almost entirely limited to Colorado. Despite residing in an almost pristine environment for most of the year, they have declined by as much as 95% over the past 50 years and, unfortunately, we don’t know why. Read on to learn more about our efforts to solve this mystery.
2017 marks eleven consecutive years of data collection at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area in Northern Colorado. This beautiful and ecologically important landscape is home to a diverse array of plants and animals—including over twenty species of grassland birds—that are uniquely adapted to life where the mountains meet the plains.
The Greater Sandhill Crane is an iconic species of the Yampa Valley in Northwest Colorado. Every spring, they return from wintering grounds in New Mexico and Arizona to nest and raise their young in wetland areas throughout the valley. Join us in September in Steamboat Springs to witness one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles for yourself.