Update from the field! Seasonal Bird Conservancy banders are working in the Chihuahuan Desert this winter to tag non-breeding grassland birds for our Motus project. Read the blog to learn more about what they are doing and how it will aid in our efforts to help grasslands and the birds that call it their home.
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.
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.
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.
Effective conservation requires understanding when and where species face limiting factors. For nomadic birds collecting this data can be extremely challenging. Bird Conservancy is testing out Motus for tracking the winter movements for an uncommon Colorado bird, the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch.
Bird Conservancy of the Rockies researchers are developing a network of automated radio telemetry stations to study the movement of grassland birds. This work will help fill in missing information about where these birds go during migration, and will ultimately help managers better conserve important grasslands for the birds to use into the future.
Each summer, migratory birds like the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher fly thousands of miles between their summer breeding grounds and wintering locations. An impressive feat under any circumstances, 2020’s fall migration brought particularly difficult challenges including record-breaking wildfires, air pollution, and extreme temperature and weather events. Sadly, many of these little international travelers did not survive.