Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nests, nests, everywhere!

Tis the season for the birds and the bees, and the Nevada Bird Count crew is finding nests everywhere!  Here are a few of our finds ...

Kathryn found this Mourning Dove nest in Mojave Scrub/Mojave Yucca habitat:

Rayann saw these Lesser Nighthawk nestlings in Mojave Scrub

Sue was a tad startled when she flushed a Common Poorwill from this nest in Joshua Tree habitat:

I found this sparsely-woven Mourning Dove nest with eggs just above my head in a honey mesquite:

Phainopepla nest in bare Screwbean mesquite:

And another Phainopepla nest in a honey mesquite:

And yet another Phainopepla nest in a cottonwood:

Last but not least a Vermilion Flycatcher female on her nest in a cottonwood:

Happy birding everyone!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pinyon Jay Monitoring Update

What started out as a radio-telemetry project on Pinyon Jays in the Desatoya Range quickly took a detour into a nest study of Pinyon Jays. Our field crew's Mercer Owen and Sue Bruner were just that good at finding Pinyon Jay nests without any tracking devices. Six colonies and 80 nests later, Mercer has been busy monitoring nest success until the nesting season was over, which it was in the second week of May. With a cool new device, a small remote camera that transmits photos wirelessly to a handheld monitor, we could see and photograph the nest contents while causing almost no disturbance to the nest. Pinyon Jays specialize on pinyon pines, and they cache their seeds so they can eat them in the winter and spring, when other food is pretty much unavailable. 

They nest in colonies in pinyon pines at a height of about 8 – 12 ft, and the young from the previous year help feed the new brood. Our study will provide the first comprehensive data on nest site selection by Pinyon Jays in the Great Basin, which will be critical information for advising land managers on how to protect this rapidly declining species. Here are a few photos from the last 6 weeks of the study.

Friday, May 10, 2013

GBBO at Earth Day in Reno, April 20, 2013

This year, GBBO’s Susan Merideth and Elisabeth Ammon promoted bird conservation in at Reno’s Earth Day celebration in Idlewild Park. We were invited to the conservation zone organized by The Nature Conservancy and NV Energy, and we showed some of the fun bird monitoring and research techniques we use on a regular basis. Many people saw for the first time a mistnet, a radio-tracking setup, a call-playback setup and banding gear. About 15,000 people attended and many stopped by to talk birds with us and check out our map of Nevada Bird Count coverage. Only very few asked how much for “our jewelry”, referring to the strings of bird bands we had on display. We were humbled and excited by how many folks really care about birds and bird conservation around the state. Here are some pictures of the event and of our informational card.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Surveying Birds Along the Lower Colorado River

Well, training is over, and data collection is well underway on our Lower Colorado River (LCR) project, where we monitor distribution, population size, and long-term trends of breeding bird species in riparian habitats within the LCR Multi-Species Conservation Program (MSCP) project area. We are collecting data on all bird species that breed and migrate through the lower Colorado (up to 200 species a year!), including the following six focal LCR MSCP covered species:

We conduct area search surveys where we identify all the birds in a plot, mapping their locations and recording breeding behavior for each individual. The surveys are challenging, and we train our techs for several weeks in bird identification by sight and sound, breeding species’ natural history, survey techniques, and data collection methods.

Here are a few photos so far this season: