When you hear the word “pollinator,” what image comes to mind? It’s likely a bee sitting on a flower, or perhaps a butterfly, or maybe even a hummingbird lapping nectar. All of these creatures play a key role in transferring pollen (and genes) between plants. Educator Maggie Vinson writes about ways you can attract pollinators to your garden, specifically bees and butterflies.
Spring 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?).
To kick off the New Year, RMBO hosted its second annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Barr Lake. Educator Tyler Edmondson recounts the spectacular day of birding and highlights the species observed by budding young birders.
How many mosquitoes can a little brown bat eat in an hour? Do bats really get caught in people’s hair? Educator Maggie Vinson answers these questions in her write-up of the WILD About Bats workshop, held earlier this summer to inform citizens and educators about this diverse and ecologically important suite of mammals.
The shortgrass prairie surrounding RMBO's Environmental Learning Center provides important habitat for birds and other wildlife. Unfortunately, non-native weeds have invaded the landscape. During field trips to the center this spring, students helped restore the prairie by removing weeds. Educator Emily Snode writes about this service learning component of RMBO's education programs and the awesome help of all of these Weed Warriors.
RMBO just finished an eventful spring bird banding season. We banded a total of 1,341 birds between our stations at Chico Basin Ranch and Chatfield State Park in Colorado. Plus, both stations had a "recovery"! A recovery is when a biologist recaptures a bird banded at another banding station. What two birds were recovered? And where were these birds first banded? Educator Emily Snode answers these questions and provides a wrap-up from the season.
On the third Saturday in May, Wildlands Day is held at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. More than a hundred people attended this year’s event to enjoy the abundance of plants and wildlife in the hills of western Nebraska. Educator Maggie Vinson writes about the day and makes a great case for attending the seventh incarnation of the event in 2014.
Bald 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.
Every spring, more than a half-million Sandhill Cranes migrate through central Nebraska, where they stopover and spend a few weeks feeding in and along the North Platte River and surrounding land. Since 1971, the Rivers and Wildlife Celebration has been an annual event timed with this great bird migration. Educator Maggie Vinson writes about her experiences during this year’s festival, including a trip at dusk to view the cranes and a fun-filled day helping run the Wild Experience Room for kids.
Students in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, gathered inside their school on a cold, blustery afternoon to experience an indoor camping trip complete with wildlife. Nebraska Education Coordinator Maggie Vinson writes about the day and all that the students learned on their camping trip.
PEEP, or Panhandle Eco-Extravaganza about Prairies, brings prairie education into schools across the Nebraska panhandle. This year, the PEEP program reached 370 students at five elementary schools. Geared to fourth- and fifth-graders, PEEP teaches students about prairies – from the plants and animals to the soil and groundwater – through hands-on, critical skills activities.
What 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!
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?
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has been running bird banding stations in the Nebraska panhandle for the past four years at Chadron State Park and five years at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. We set up nets in the same locations year after year in order to study the local and migratory bird populations and to provide up-close and personal looks at birds to schoolchildren and members of the general public. This year, all is well at the Wildcat Hills station, but things were looking very grim for Chadron State Park at the beginning of the banding season.
For nearly 10 years, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has enjoyed a partnership with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver for bird banding and environmental education at the Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park near Denver. More than 100 guests gathered at the site on May 4 for the opening of a new pavilion that will serve as an outdoor classroom where school groups and others can enjoy seeing and hearing about birds, banding and conservation.