Rocky 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.
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.
The Central Plains Experimental Range, adjacent to the Pawnee National Grasslands, is a beautiful locale in northeast Colorado where an intact prairie landscape still exists. This summer, Amber Carver had the fortune of spending many days on the range, collecting data for her master’s degree in integrative biology from the University of Colorado-Denver.
Spring migration is under way. Just as the birds return north, 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.
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.
The Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States 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, published in February in the journal Biological Conservation, shed light as to why these birds are declining and emphasize that unless immediate action is taken, forecasts are dire.
The 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 provides an update on capturing and tracking sparrows, insights gained so far this season and stunning photos from the field.
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.
“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.
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. Communications Coordinator Teddy Parker-Renga writes about a day in the field surveying birds on these properties and discusses the impact of the Mountains to Plains Region project.