This 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.
Did you know that roughly 60% of the land area in the United States is privately owned? That amounts to a lot of land, about 1.43 billion acres. These lands not only provide the food, fiber, energy and timber that make our nation hum, but harbor some of the most important habitat for birds. Released yesterday, the State of the Birds 2013 report, with contributions from RMBO, focuses on these private lands and their importance for successful bird conservation.
RMBO'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.
Grady Grissom, a rancher in southeast Colorado, had a problem playa. Someone had pitted a playa lake on his ranch many decades earlier to make a deeper water pond for cattle. While good for cattle, it concentrated the water into the pit, degrading the wetland habitat for other wildlife. To solve the problem, he turned to the Stewardship team at Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory for help.
The South Platte River in northeastern Colorado is among the highest priority areas for wetland conservation in the state. Historically, it has provided important habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh birds, like the White-faced Ibis pictured left, and other wetland wildlife. Last week, RMBO biologist Colin Lee met with Natural Resources Conservation Service leadership and partners to discuss the state of NRCS conservation easements along the South Platte, culminating in a tour of two easements that serve as outstanding examples of wetland conservation on private lands.
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?
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.
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.
Some of Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory's stewardship staff were in Pinedale, Wyoming, in late June to celebrate Sage Grouse Initiative successes with partners from national and state agencies, nonprofits and landowner organizations. Billed as "wildlife conservation through sustainable agriculture," SGI is a model for voluntary private-lands conservation.