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 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.
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.
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.”
Alas, 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.
Birds 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 were indeed successful.
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.
Rocky 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.
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.