You must be logged in and have permission to create or edit a blog.
By admin on 4/30/2015 3:17 PM

GRSPRocky 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.

By admin on 4/20/2015 10:03 AM

GJAC In late March, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory facilitated a workshop in Panama to assess the conservation status of the birds of Central America. The results, though preliminary, show that 52% of all birds assessed have experienced strong or severe population declines in Central America.

By admin on 4/16/2015 11:09 AM

BAEAThe Bald Eagle nesting season is in full swing in the Rockies. Citizen scientists with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory are busy monitoring nesting activity across Colorado. Outreach biologist Jeff Birek reports that volunteers with Bald Eagle Watch have already observed at least 20 eaglets in nests across the state, including two at Barr Lake.

By admin on 3/5/2015 8:57 AM

BAIS Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory's third season of studying survival and habitat use of Baird's and Grasshopper Sparrows is under way on their wintering grounds in the grasslands of northern Mexico. Writing from Chihuahua, biologist Erin Strasser shares an update on capturing and tracking sparrows, insights gained so far this season and captivating photos from the field.

By admin on 2/25/2015 1:39 PM

Fence MarkersThe Greater Sage-Grouse represents a special part of our country's sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory is testing the effectiveness of different types of fence markers to help these grouse avoid collisions with fences. Field crew leader Taylor Gorman and biologist Nick Van Lanen offer insights from the first season of this study before heading back into the field.

By admin on 12/3/2014 7:00 AM

NSWORocky Mountain Bird Observatory caught a whopping 277 Northern Saw-whet Owls at banding stations in North and South Dakota this fall. Among them were 6 recovered owls, or birds banded at another station or during a different season. Where were the owls first banded, and when? Read this post to find out (hint: one was first banded about 660 miles northwest!).

By admin on 11/13/2014 2:50 PM

Barrow’s GoldeneyeIn 2000, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory began organizing an annual Barrow's Goldeneye count in Colorado to monitor the wintering population of this species. Volunteer citizen scientists are needed to help with the 2014 count. The protocol is simple – get out to as many lakes and reservoirs across the state as possible and count Barrow's Goldeneyes!

By admin on 11/11/2014 2:34 PM

McCown’s LongspurHow do grassland birds respond to different grazing practices? University of Colorado-Denver master's student Amber Carver is exploring this question, looking at nest success of McCown's Longspurs and other birds on the prairie of northeast Colorado during an adaptive grazing management study. Amber writes about insights gleaned from her research this past summer.

By admin on 10/27/2014 9:23 AM

Black SwiftBlack Swifts are at risk to the effects of climate change. As our atmosphere heats up and viable Black Swift breeding habitat dwindles, proactive conservation of this species is critical. A team of researchers is working to conserve the North American population of Black Swifts, conducting research across the West to better understand the "coolest bird."

By admin on 10/20/2014 11:06 AM

ErinSDespite much progress, a disparity still exists between the sexes in the sciences. There are fewer women than men working in science-related fields. What can we do to encourage more young girls to enter the sciences? Biologist Erin Strasser spoke with female colleagues working in the sciences to glean their insights and advice and inspire other women to become awesome lady scientists.

By admin on 9/25/2014 2:11 PM

DickcisselThis spring, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory began conducting bird population monitoring surveys along the Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska. Outreach Biologist Jeff Birek was fortunate enough to land that area as one of his survey locales this summer. Jeff reports on the impacts a recent fire along the Niobrara River has had on birds and provides a species list from the summer.

By admin on 9/3/2014 7:16 AM

American Three-toed WoodpeckerWith summer waning, RMBO has completed its sixth season of conducting surveys under the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. How many birds were counted? What new and rare species were detected? Biologist Nick Van Lanen answers these questions and offers a wrap-up of another successful summer survey season.

By admin on 7/9/2014 8:00 AM

Western TanagerBirds can migrate thousands of miles a year between their breeding and wintering grounds. Where, exactly, do they go? What routes do they take and where do they stopover? RMBO biologists set out to answer these questions for Western Tanagers and Swainson's Thrushes that breed in Rocky Mountain National Park in a project for the National Park Service. CSU student Marina Rodriguez writes about this project and reveals whether the biologists successfully discovered where the birds go.

By admin on 6/25/2014 7:00 AM

Sage SparrowEarlier this year, RMBO hosted forums to gauge feedback on a new Decision Support Tool. The tool helps compare management options that ensure the economic viability of grazing lands with the habitat needs of sagebrush-dependent songbirds and grouse.

By admin on 6/18/2014 7:00 AM

ATFLBird banding brings us cool birds, interesting insights and always new questions, and this spring was no exception. We again shared these experiences with hundreds of visitors, from toddlers to school kids to adults of all ages. Without further ado, here are the birdy highlights from the spring.

By admin on 5/7/2014 7:00 AM

QuetzalSince many birds that breed in the Rockies and elsewhere in the western U.S. winter in Central America, it's important for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and partners to support and advance conservation abroad. In March, RMBO coordinated a landmark meeting in San Vito, Costa Rica, to determine the conservation status of the birds of Central America.

By admin on 4/23/2014 2:57 PM

GRSP Spring migration is under way. Just as the birds head north in the spring, 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.

By admin on 4/16/2014 7:00 AM

FeatherRocky Mountain Bird Observatory is testing the effectiveness of different types of fence markers to help Greater Sage-Grouse avoid collisions with fences. Field crew leader Taylor Gorman and biologist Nick Van Lanen write from frigid Sublette County, Wyoming, on the importance of markers for reducing grouse mortalities and report on progress of RMBO's study thus far.

By admin on 4/14/2014 7:00 AM

MOPLRMBO is partnering with the University of Colorado-Denver to support a graduate research project to better understand how Mountain Plovers utilize habitat during the nesting cycle. Biologists will study their foraging habits by tracking adult plovers using radio-telemetry. CSU student Jamie Osterbuhr writes about this research, taking place in the crop fields of western Nebraska. Post updated June 13.

By admin on 3/12/2014 9:46 AM

ATFLSpring is here, and you know what that means ... spring migration and bird banding! We're getting prepared and excited for the upcoming banding season. But before we get the mist nets out for another season, we wanted to share some birdy highlights from the fall (a little late, we know, but better late than never, right?).

By admin on 2/27/2014 2:30 PM

Cleared GrasslandsThe Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. 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 shed light as to why these birds are declining and emphasize that unless immediate action is taken, forecasts are dire.

By admin on 2/3/2014 1:15 PM

Grasshopper Sparrow by Erin StrasserThe field season is under way in northern Mexico, where RMBO and partners are studying the winter survival and habitat use of Baird's and Grasshopper Sparrows in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands. Writing from Chihuahua, biologist Erin Strasser shares an update on capturing and tracking sparrows, insights gained so far this season and stunning photos from the field.

By admin on 12/10/2013 10:23 AM

Baird's SparrowGrassland birds are declining faster than any other group of North American birds. The key to reversing these declines may lie on their wintering grounds in northern Mexico. Writing from Chihuahua, biologist Erin Strasser provides a preview of RMBO's second season studying the overwintering ecology of Baird's and Grasshopper Sparrows in the Mexican grasslands.

By admin on 11/12/2013 10:58 AM

Saw-whet Owl by Keith BagnallIt was a quality over quantity kind of season for banding Northern Saw-whet Owls this fall. While banders in North and South Dakota caught fewer owls per night, they recovered a total of 10 owls, or birds banded at another station or during a different season. Where were the owls first banded, and when? Read this post to find out (hint: one was first banded about 1,300 miles east!). Post updated on Dec. 17.

By admin on 11/7/2013 2:01 PM

Aplomado Falcon"Another nest has failed." This is the recurring news that technicians monitoring Aplomado Falcons in Chihuahua, Mexico, have reported over the last 18 years. Private Lands Wildlife Biologists Roberto Rodríguez and Pedro Calderón report from Chihuahua on last season's monitoring of this iconic grassland species and efforts to conserve its dwindling habitat there.

By admin on 10/23/2013 1:03 PM

Elegant Trogon by Adam CarmanNow that fall is upon us in the Rockies, RMBO biologists and technicians are finishing proofing data gathered this summer under the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. It’s not glamorous, but with proofing data comes the confirmation of cool new species for the program. Biologist Nick Van Lanen reports on the summer field season and species detected for the first time during IMBCR surveys.

By admin on 8/30/2013 1:54 PM

Ferruginous Hawk by Bob GrierThis summer, a LightHawk pilot and his wife volunteered their time and plane to help Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory with a census of Ferruginous Hawks and Golden Eagles nesting in the panhandle region of western Nebraska. How many birds were spotted on their nests? Wildlife Biologist Angela Dwyer offers results from the aerial surveys, used to gauge population stability for these species of concern in Nebraska.

By admin on 7/26/2013 11:36 AM

Burrowing Owl by Denis PerezGrassland bird populations have declined more steeply than any other group of North American birds. Since 2006, RMBO has partnered with the City of Fort Collins to inventory and monitor grassland birds on city-owned properties near the Colorado-Wyoming border. These properties represent some of the most significant grasslands in northern Colorado and support populations of more than 20 high-priority bird species. Read about a day in the field with biologist Erin Youngberg and field technician Denis Perez surveying birds on these properties and the impact of the Mountains to Plains Region project.

By admin on 5/30/2013 10:56 AM

Blackburnian Warbler by Michael McCloyRMBO biologists and field technicians are once again preparing to fan out across mountains, prairies and high deserts to conduct breeding bird surveys under the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. Biologist Nick Van Lanen provides an update on trainings for IMBCR surveys, including a rare bird spotted by a crew member – and former RMBO camper – in South Dakota.

By admin on 5/13/2013 11:45 AM

Mountain Plover Nest by Tasha BlechaRMBO's field crew in western Nebraska discovered its first Mountain Plover nest of the breeding season on May 8. After the cold start to spring, this newly laid nest with a clutch of three eggs was an important find. Nebraska Project Biologist Larry Snyder writes about the find and RMBO's plover nest conservation program. Post updated on July 3.

By admin on 5/6/2013 9:23 AM

Flame-colored Tanager by Angeles Gonzalez MartinezThe temperate forests of West Mexico are critical habitat for endemic and migrant bird species. In March, RMBO wrapped up its first year of surveying birds in this region. Our technicians offer a report from Jalisco, Mexico, on their experiences meeting locals and surveying in this challenging, beautiful terrain, including a list of unique and interesting species detected.

By admin on 4/24/2013 4:10 PM

Eastern Screech-Owl by Rob SparksEastern Screech-Owls are the most common owl species in North America, yet little is known about their habitat needs or population dynamics. To fill these knowledge gaps – and get citizens involved in science linked to their natural environment – RMBO launched a new project last month in Fort Collins, Colorado, to monitor Eastern Screech-Owls along the Cache la Poudre River. Post updated on July 12.

By admin on 4/12/2013 3:08 PM

Bald Eagle by Casey CarterBald Eagle Watch, a citizen science program coordinated by Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, is in the midst of its 26th season of nest monitoring along the Front Range of Colorado. Educator Emily Snode provides a history of the program and Bald Eagle recovery and offers an update on the season to date. How many nests have shown signs of incubation? Read her post to find out! Post updated on May 13.

By admin on 4/8/2013 9:11 AM

Grasshopper Sparrow by Erin StrasserLast month, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory completed its first field season studying winter survival of Baird's and Grasshopper Sparrows in Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico. Both of these grassland species have declined between 70 and 80% since the 1960s. The key to stemming these population declines may lie on their wintering grounds in Chihuahua. Biologist Erin Strasser provides a wrap-up of the study including some interesting preliminary data.

By admin on 3/20/2013 8:53 AM

Red-Tailed Hawk by Jeff BirekThe HawkWatch citizen science program gives volunteers the opportunity to participate in real science while they learn about raptor behavior and identification. Outreach Biologist Jeff Birek recounts a bountiful day counting migrating raptors on Dinosaur Ridge west of Morrison, Colorado, as part of HawkWatch and offers details on how people can get involved.

By admin on 2/26/2013 3:12 PM

Survey MapHow do we decide where to conduct bird surveys? Throw darts at a giant map of the Rockies? If locations seem to be picked at random, well, it's because they are. Landowner Outreach and Program Technician Bill Tiedje explains the use of random sampling for bird survey site selection.

By admin on 1/28/2013 10:15 AM

Overwintering Grassland Birds StudyGrassland birds are declining faster than any other group of North American birds. The key to reversing this decline may lie on their wintering grounds in Chihuahua, Mexico. Biologist Erin Strasser provides an update from Chihuahua on a study that's using radio-telemetry to better understand the overwintering ecology of Baird's and Grasshopper Sparrows.

By admin on 12/18/2012 3:33 PM

Map of Black Swift SightingEarlier this month, the sustainable tourism website Rumbos published a photo of an alleged Black Swift taken Dec. 2, 2012, during a birding rally in Tambopata, Peru. If it is indeed a Black Swift, this would be the first known sighting of the species in South America, outside of samples of a Black Swift subspecies collected in Colombia in 1993. Biologist Rob Sparks offers insights – and a detailed map – about this recent sighting.

By admin on 11/1/2012 10:49 AM

Bird Bander in TrainingWhat a great banding season at Barr Lake State Park! It seems like only yesterday that bird bander Meredith McBurney and I kicked off the season in August, banding 50 birds with only four of our 21 nets open. In retrospect, this proved to be an omen of the sensational fall migration that was to come. This season, we banded over 1,700 birds. With a diversity of 71 species, it was a "big year" for the Barr Lake Banding Station. We had not reached numbers at this level and at this location since 2006!

By admin on 10/18/2012 11:45 AM
Ord's Kangaroo Rat

Earlier this year, I began working with a landowner on improving her property for wildlife along the Dolores River in western Colorado. As a novel approach to restoration monitoring, I suggested we conduct a BioBlitz on her property. Using this approach, we assembled experts from a variety of ecological disciplines, along with teachers and students from the local community, to inventory the species on her property over two long weekends. What did we find?

By admin on 9/24/2012 1:19 PM
Lark Bunting

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has released the first-ever conservation plan for grassland bird species that winter in the Chihuahuan Desert, with support from the Rio Grande Joint Venture and American Bird Conservancy. The plan provides a wide range of science-based information to guide everyone from on-the-ground land managers to program- and policy-level decision-makers in maintaining and improving habitat for grassland bird species of high conservation concern.

By admin on 9/12/2012 8:20 AM
Sage Thrasher by Sam Stuart

Our Stewardship and Science teams recently received a $257,000 grant from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to support a project designed to conserve the Greater Sage-grouse and other sagebrush-obligate birds. Part of the three-year Conservation Innovation Grant will be used to develop a conservation tool based on our bird monitoring data. This tool will help inform future management decisions in the sagebrush ecosystem and encourage a multi-species approach to sagebrush conservation efforts.

By admin on 8/3/2012 4:06 PM
Royal Tern at Barr LakeA Royal Tern is a welcome and rare visitor at Barr Lake northeast of Denver and home to Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s headquarters. Since first sighted on July 29 by Steve Mlodinow, this tern has shown off its bright orange bill to many interested gawkers. Normally flying in the U.S. only along the eastern and California coastlines, this species has now been recorded in Colorado just three times. Males and females can distinguish each other, fortunately, but we humans can’t tell them apart without, ahem, invasive procedures.
By admin on 8/1/2012 12:00 PM
Tech Practices with Bear Spray Our Wyoming field crew met for midseason training to familiarize themselves with high-elevation plants and birds before they conducted avian surveys in June and July. At the training Diane Probasco from the U.S. Forest Service gave the RMBO surveyors a bear safety presentation and the opportunity to discharge inert bear spray canisters.
By admin on 6/15/2012 12:33 PM

Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s Bald Eagle Watch Coordinator Cindi Kelly reports the nest we monitor about a mile from Ted’s Place northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., has survived the High Park fire so far. At one point flames were .9 miles from the nest. "It was a little scary because the fire was so close," she said. "The smoke can’t be good for anyone or anything. The eagles spend a lot of time grooming themselves. They have an inner eyelid used for blinking called a nictitating membrane, which slides across the eye every 3-4 seconds to wipe dirt and dust from the cornea."

By admin on 6/1/2012 9:34 AM

By Joe Roller, RMBO Board Director, May 30, 2012Yellow-throated Vireo

A rare sight greeted 10 of us this morning as we studied the breeding birds at Chatfield State Park near Denver on an outing organized by Wild Birds Unlimited and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Late morning, as we watched a singing male Plumbeous Vireo on and near a nest, Becky Campbell and Nathan McAdam spotted a different vireo high in the trees above the path. We all searched the treetops and had a good look at a Yellow-throated Vireo interacting as a pair with the Plumbeous Vireo, coming right to the nest without being chased away. Excitement filled the air – literally – at seeing vireos of different species paired up at a nest!

By admin on 4/27/2012 1:57 PM

Baird's SparrowRMBO has released "Wintering Grassland Bird Densities in Chihuahuan Desert Grassland Priority Conservation Areas, 2007-2011," documenting bird abundance, distribution, habitat use and other information collected over five years in three U.S. and six Mexican states. The Chihuahuan Desert is the primary wintering grounds for more than 90 percent of western North America’s migratory grassland birds.

By admin on 3/30/2012 1:11 PM

Six years ago in late August, Rich Levad, Rob Sparks, Jason Beason and Ken Behrens hiked through spruce fir forest to a spot just above timberline where a Black Swift nest clung to a wet, rocky outcrop. The outing was part of Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s effort to collect baseline data on this little-known species. When no swifts were seen that evening, the scientists wondered if they had already started migrating – and where did they go?

By admin on 3/3/2012 10:59 AM

Black Swift with geolocatorThe last bird that breeds in the U.S. and Canada with an unknown winter destination has finally given up its secret. After years of research – and with some luck – three Colorado researchers have learned that Black Swifts travel more than 4,000 miles to spend the winter in Brazil. The destination came as a surprise to the researchers since Black Swifts have not been documented in Brazil.

By admin on 2/2/2012 9:21 AM

Field crew at mist net in MexicoRocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s International Team is monitoring and banding birds in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands in northern Mexico with the help of 26 local field techs the team trained in early January.

As shown in the photo, field crews remove birds that are harmlessly captured in mist nets to gather data to guide conservation efforts. After receiving a USGS-issued leg band, the birds are weighed, measured and inspected before being released.

Birds including Baird’s Sparrow (pictured below), Grasshopper Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur and many others winter in Mexican grasslands before returning to the Great Plains in spring. RMBO is working to conserve their disappearing winter habitat and boost their winter survival.
Bairds Sparrow
  Photos by Arvind Panjabi, International Program Director, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory

By admin on 1/6/2012 1:50 PM
Snowy Owl Barr Lake 1-3-12By Chuck Hundertmark, Compiler, Barr Lake Christmas Bird Count

Twenty-six volunteers tallied 68 species of birds across parts of Adams and Weld counties on January 2 for the Barr Lake Christmas Bird Count. The numbers of species and individual birds (18,562) were lower than past winters, but by day's end  the topic of conversation wasn’t about the numbers.

(Full list of birds found on the Barr Lake Christmas Bird Count.)
(Photo by Gregg Goodrich)
By admin on 11/23/2011 12:56 PM
IMBCR partners meetingForty people from as far away as Montana and Texas were in our Fort Collins office for three days last week to strategize on how to best accomplish seamless bird monitoring across the western landscape. These representatives of 15 federal, state and private partners and RMBO’s science staff have conducted the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions program for the past three years.
Follow us at: