Black 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."
Despite 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.
It's started, and the fall exodus of hundreds of millions of birds is becoming apparent at our feeding stations. David Menough of Wild Birds Unlimited offers tips on attracting migrants to your backyard and a fall departure-arrival schedule for the Denver area. It's amazing to see these birds checking their datebooks for their departure days.
On July 25, 35 volunteers gathered along the Navajo River in southern Colorado to plant more than 200 native trees on private land as part of a project sponsored by RMBO and partners. RMBO biologist Martin Moses writes about the project and the use a handy new tool: the water jet stinger.
Variety keeps life exciting. This is not only true in our personal experiences, but in the way we present our backyard habitats to those creatures we are attempting to attract to these feeding areas. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada, offers tips on a variety of attractors you can use to entice a diversity of birds.
Since 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.
RMBO 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.
Spring is right around the corner. If you'd like to share the beauty of this miraculous time of year with your family, now is the time to get your birdhouses ready. Birds begin looking for suitable nesting sites now. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada, offers do's and don'ts for selecting the right birdhouse.
The 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.
They wake us with gentle melodies each morning. They entertain us with their aerobatic antics. They open our children's eyes to the wonders of nature. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada, offers tips on what you can do to show the birds how much they mean to you.
Encroachment of coniferous trees such as juniper can noticeably alter sagebrush ecosystems and, in turn, habitat quality for wildlife. Range Conservationist Brandon Elkins writes about a project to remove juniper trees in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming to benefit sage-grouse and other wildlife.
It's the holiday season, a time to enjoy tasty treats. While you fill up on goodies, don't forget to share with our avian amigos. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada, offers advice on what you can put on a tree as edible decorations for wild birds, such as this frosty little Song Sparrow to the left, and other wildlife.
Grassland 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.
Did you know that a turkey gizzard can crush an object normally requiring 400 pounds per square inch of pressure? Or that native wild turkeys were almost hunted to extinction in Colorado? David Menough, owner of Wild Bird Unlimited of Arvada, writes about this "vain and silly" bird as we approach Turkey Day. Gobble, gobble.
While winter won't officially arrive until December, it's already snowed here in Colorado and temperatures are routinely dropping below freezing at night. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada, offers tips on helping our avian amigos stay warm and toasty during the frigid, frosty winter ahead.
Now 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.
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.
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.
A wide variety of people love to feed a wide variety of birds, and these nature-lovers, in turn, have a wide variety of attitudes about squirrels. Some folks want the best recipe for squirrel stew, while others want to know how to keep the blue jays out of the squirrel feeder. Scott Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Denver, offers tips on protecting your bird feeder from pesky critters.
August and hot can be used interchangeably in Colorado and across much of the West. As summer heats up, you may be asking yourself, “How can I help our avian amigos stay cool?” The answer: Get a birdbath! David Menough, owner of Wild Bird Unlimited of Arvada, offers tips on selecting, placing and attracting birds to your birdbath.
Grassland 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.
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 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.
This summer, as you work on your landscaping, try to select plants that attract wildlife while still enhancing the beauty of your garden. It’s called “naturescaping,” and it can be quite a challenge at high elevations. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada and a Master Gardener, offers five plant species that are not only beautiful but hardy, fruitful and bird friendly.
Binoculars are an essential tool for any birder, but how do you pick out a good pair? There are many factors to consider to ensure you get the best pair for you. David Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada, offers tips on selecting binoculars so you can have a fun, high-quality birding experience.
The 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.
Eastern 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.
Spring is here, and you know what that means … hummingbirds! In the mountains, it's easy to attract hummingbirds. In cities, however, it requires a little more effort. Scott Menough, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Denver, offers tips on attracting these hovering jewels of nature to your yard.
Last 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.
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.
Grassland 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
The 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.