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.
Forest management has evolved rapidly over the last two decades as land managers strive to find a balance between wildlife habitat needs, resource utilization, fire mitigation, and resilience to climate change. Using birds as indicators, Bird Conservancy and partners explored the impacts of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and how modern forest management approaches are shaping avian biodiversity in treated landscapes.
Recent extensive bark beetle outbreaks have raised concerns about the health of western conifer forests and their capacity to support wildlife species. These tiny bugs bring big changes, transforming forests and re-shaping landscape ecology in extreme ways and on a grand scale. We surveyed birds in Colorado, gathering data to compare unimpacted forests with those following a beetle outbreak. What we found may surprise you!
Little is known about grassland birds during migration. Automated radio telemetry through the Motus Wildlife Tracking System can help us understand bird movement during this part of their life cycle. Bird Conservancy of the Rockies is implementing a three-phase, multiyear project to expand the Motus network into the Great Plains and Chihuahuan Desert, installing receiving stations along avian flyways to capture vital data and fill knowledge gaps.
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.
Around 200 pairs of Bald Eagles call Colorado home, with most breeding pairs remaining in the state year-round, rearing their young here in the spring and summer. Why, then, does Colorado’s Bald Eagle population surge to well over 1000 birds in the late fall and winter? Migration is the obvious answer, but as you might suspect, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Why do some eagles migrate while others do not? Here we’ll explore the answer to that question and more.
Bird Conservancy of the Rockies finished 2019 among friends and with binoculars in hand at Birds of Winter Camps and a successful Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Stacey and Tyler from our Education team share stories from the adventures, many of which are sure to provide lasting memories in the minds of participants.