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.
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.