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.
Every year, our friends at Rocky Mountain Raptor Program in Fort Collins, CO receive over 300 injured, sick and orphaned birds. They are nursed back to health and more than 80% of them are released back into the wild. Last fall, bird banders at our Barr Lake State Park station enjoyed the opportunity to meet one of the recipients of their kindness in person!
We had a banner year at our banding station at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. 2020 proved to be our busiest season there to date. We set new highs for total banded birds and added several new species that had never been banded there before. All of this was while simultaneously adapting to meet health and safety guidelines that enabled visitors to experience bird banding firsthand in a safe way.
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.
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.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Bird Banding Laboratory, the federal agency responsible for overseeing all bird banding efforts in the United States and Canada. Here we’ll take a look at why banding is such a powerful tool for research while highlighting a few of our projects that put banding to use. With the fall banding season rapidly approaching, its a good time to reexamine what makes a bird in the hand so valuable.
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.