Grassland bird populations are declining and the majority of species are understudied on their wintering grounds. In the winter of 2020, we implemented a regional monitoring program in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas to establish baseline population estimates of grassland birds. We surveyed on a number of expansive cattle ranches, each exhibiting fascinating ecological and management histories. Through the implementation of this program, we can share that collaboration between ranching operations and grassland bird conservation is mutually beneficial.
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.
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.
Mixed-grass prairie in the Northern Great Plains represents critical habitat for wildlife of all kinds, including our specialty at Bird Conservancy of the Rockies – birds! Read on to learn more about our full life cycle monitoring on the breeding grounds and how technology is playing a role in helping us conserve birds and their habitats.
Bird Conservancy is finishing up another winter of grassland bird monitoring in Mexico, using radio-telemetry to study survival rates of Baird’s and Grasshopper Sparrows. We follow them to get an inside view into their lives, and sometimes feel a bit like sparrow paparazzi!
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory biologists are back in Colorado after a fruitful winter studying grassland birds on their wintering grounds in northern Mexico. Before digging too deep into the data, biologist Erin Strasser offers a preliminary look at what they learned during season three of this study.
Spring migration is under way. Just as the birds return north, so do the RMBO scientists who study them on their wintering grounds. Back home in Colorado, biologist Erin Strasser offers preliminary results from a second season studying winter survival and habitat use of Baird’s and Grasshopper Sparrows in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands.
The Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States are the principal wintering grounds for 90% of grassland bird species breeding in the western Great Plains of North America. Species such as Baird’s Sparrows, Chestnut-collared Longspurs and Sprague’s Pipits, which rely on this region during the winter, have declined by upwards of 80% since the 1960s. Results from Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and cooperators’ research, published in February in the journal Biological Conservation, shed light as to why these birds are declining and emphasize that unless immediate action is taken, forecasts are dire.