Decisions we make every day can help birds. Over half of the people who live in the U.S. drink coffee, but few understand the environmental impacts of growing it. Many of our favorite migratory bird species— including warblers, tanagers, ovenbirds and thrushes—spend their winters in coffee-growing landscapes in the tropics. Understanding sustainable coffee growing practices helps us become better consumers and make choices that benefit birds, the habitats they rely on, and coffee producers!
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.
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.
Conservation Birding Tours combine world-class birding with science education to raise awareness of continentally-important bird areas. In March 2019, Bird Conservancy led a trip to West Mexico to explore the abundant and diverse avifauna of this unique region. Today’s post shares some highlights from this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Nineteen Mennonite students from Cuauhtémoc recently joined us in the field and experienced a day in the life of bird biologists. Representing a vital piece of the conservation puzzle in Chihuahua, their visit opens new pathways for awareness, conversation and collaboration to help grassland birds on Mexico’s wintering grounds.
After several weeks of intensive nest searching and observation, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies has confirmed that Baird’s Sparrows are actively breeding at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area—the first time the species has been documented reproducing in the State of Colorado. This remarkable discovery marks an exciting milestone in an already-eventful 2018 summer field season.
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.
After several decades of steep declines, Aplomado Falcon populations are slowly rising again in the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, thanks to the efforts of our local partners, ranchers and biologists who are working hard to improve habitat, providing nesting locations, and closely monitor the progress of this threatened species.