Moving Forward

eggs in handI am happy to announce that I am officially bander certified by the North American Banding Council. The test took place in Ashland, OR and was a very rigorous, three-day exam consisting of four parts: a written, practical, specimen, and interview. We were tested on our ability to operate a banding station, set up/take down mist nets, identifying the common species, proper banding and adjustment, proper aging and sexing techniques, morphology measurements, the history of banding, correcting data sheets, bird morphology, avian first aid, and more. I can’t believe I’ve had to learn all of this in only two months! But It feels extremely rewarding to have accomplished it. In the beginning I didn’t know the first thing about banding and my songbird ID was limited. But now, I feel well equipped and confident with my banding, aging and sexing techniques and can no longer step outside without naming all the birdcalls I hear. It’s fantastic.

During the practical exam, I realized that this was the last time I would be banding in southern Oregon and the nostalgia kicked in. As I banded my last bird, which was a stunning northern flicker, I wondered, “What will a few days without handling birds be like? I can’t believe they won’t be what I’m surrounded by for half my day.” For the last few months, I’ve been working in the field, it’s been a busy time from the Oregon coast to Alaska and southern Oregon. Forest, tundra, ocean, and wild creatures have been what surrounds me. But now,I’m surrounded by quiet the opposite, cars, buildings, and many many people. After only three days outside of nature, it feels odd and its a big change… nonetheless it is a much needed break from the long hard working days in the field and the perfect time to spend with family.

So where do I go from here? To start, I plan on making a trip to my Peruvian home country during the winter or early spring. Not only am I excited to visit friends and family, but I’m also looking forward to participating in some banding outings with the Santa Eulalia Biological Station. Now that I have the bander certification, I want to take the next step in getting trainer certified, so that I can offer banding workshops while I am in Peru. Once I come back to the northern hemisphere, it will be the field season once again and I can’t wait to jump on some cool projects. Shortly after, I will be starting graduate school at Oregon State University. I will be involved in seabird telemetry, tagging and tracking petrels, fulmars, gulls, and more during the winter and breeding season. Not only this but I will also be in charge of vessel seabird counts and coordinating the reproductive success research on common murres out of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, OR.

I’m very excited for what 2015 has in store for me and meanwhile I will be enjoying lovely outings in beautiful Oregon for the rest of Fall.

Bird on!

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KBO on Conservation

Male Spotted Towhee

I’ve spent some time talking about my experience banding for Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO), but I have not yet explained who are they and what they do. So let me discuss. KBO is a non-profit organization that focuses on the long-term monitoring of landbirds in southern Oregon and northern California.

They impact the community around them by performing Decision Support Tools (DST) which deliver scientific information to those in position to benefit birds and their habitats, such as land managers. One of the most recent ones developed, was a guide for private landowners on restoring oak habitat. The guide explains the importance of oak habitat, the role of private landowners in oak restoration, highlights oak species in the region, and gives instructions on how to monitor bird species to document ecological benefits of oak restoration activities. This document has contributed to such an extent that with the help of the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network partners, 6,000 acres of federal state, and private land were restored. This benefited oak-depended birds like the Oak Titmouse and it was highlight in the most recent State of the Birds Report as an example on how conservation does work!

KBO has also been actively involved in the Trinity River Restoration Program. This program works to restore salmonoid populations that have been impacted by dams in the Trinity River in northern California. The restoration involves creating more riparian habitat that will benefit both fish and bird populations. For this KBO has been monitoring bird populations in that area for many years. They have expanded the bird monitoring by implementing two additional methodologies: one to determine whether birds are nesting in the recently restored riparian habitat, and if so, whether the young is successfully fledging. The results will allow for a better understanding of the restoration response and influence the adaptive management framework.

In terms of the banding data I collect with my team of six biological technicians, that is part of the effort to track population abundance, reproductive success, and survival of birds in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. KBO works in conjunction with the Humboldt Bay Observatory with whom together operate on 16 different monitoring stations, estimation 10,000 bird captures a year. Banding data collected in addition to point count surveys, also goes to the National Park Service Klamath Network which aids national parks in the assessment of ecological integrity of the parks at stakes. The network includes Crater Lake National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Redwood National and State Parks, Whiskeytown National Recreational Area, and the Oregon Caves National Monument where mist-netting surveys are implemented.

KBO also performs environmental education. They have recently developed a Northwest Nature Shop, where kids in elementary and middle school can explore and gain a deeper sense of place by learning about to their local ecosystems and land issues. However they have long been involved with developing curriculum for interested teachers, performed classroom visits, field trips and camps, and visits to their monitoring stations.

These are only a few, of the many ways in which KBO is contributing to conservation in our local environment. I invite you to read their story or make a donation to save migratory birds at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/saving-migratory-birds

Rally Rálidos-Colombia (Rallidae Rally- Colombia)

(La traducción al Español está por debajo de la sección en Inglés)

 

Rally flyer

IMG_8597

The Association Calidris group during the Rallidae Rally survey in LAGUNA DE SONSO- Colombia. 2014.

 

My first experience working in the field with Asociacion Calidris was during Colombia’s first Rallidae Rally. During the rally we dedicated a morning to surveying Sonso, about an hour north from Cali, Colombia.

Our team prepared for the surveys at the Calidris office, where Yanira gave a presentation on the study area, methods, and the rail species common to Colombia. During this training we learned how to ID the rails through visual and vocalization characteristics.

 

The objective of the survey:

  • Obtain information
  • Identify local pressures and threats toward rails
  • Determine the status and population tendencies over time
  • Awaken interest within the ornithological community

 

With a group of 13, we split up into 4 groups – 2 groups on land and 2 groups on canoe/kayak.

 

I was happy to have been able go on a kayak! During the survey, we paddled along the edge of Sonso’s lagoon. In my previous internship with EFTA, in Alaska, I did A LOT of kayaking so being able to get back in a kayak brought a little nostalgia.

 

During our survey we stopped near the edge to listen and watch carefully for 10 minutes every 100 meters. We noted the initial time and end of the survey, the species we observed, information about the habitat, and took GPS coordinates for each of our survey points.

 

From previous visits the team expected to see a lot of common gallinule (Gallenula galeata), but to our surprise we saw and heard a lot of American coots (Fulica americana), a species that I have previously observed in California.

 

We all had a lot of fun. I learned a lot in such a short time. I learned the Latin names, visual and vocalization identification characteristics for rails in Colombia, with a little more practice it becomes a little easier.

 

My next adventure with Calidris involves traveling to Colombia’s Caribbean to reunite with a group of birds that I am familiar with from my internship in Cordova, Alaska- SHOREBIRDS!

 


( Español )

IMG_8597

El grupo de Asociación Calidris durante la encuesta de Rally Rálidos en LAGUNA DE SONSO- Colombia. 2014.

Mi primera experiencia trabajando en el campo con la Asociación Calidris fue durante el primer Rally Rálidos de Colombia. Durante el rally nos dedicamos una mañana conduciendo una encuesta en Sonso, a una hora al norte de Cali, Colombia.

 

Nuestro equipo preparo para las encuestas en la oficina de Calidris, donde Yanira hizo una presentación sobre el área de estudio, los métodos y las especies comunes de rálidos de Colombia. Durante este entrenamiento, aprendimos a identificar a los rálidos a través de las características visuales y de vocalización.

 

Los objetivos de la encuesta:

  • Obtener información
  • Identificar presiones y amenazas locales a las que el grupo es sometido
  • Determinar con el tiempo el estatus y tendencias poblacionales
  • Despertar el interés de la comunidad ornitológica

 

Con un grupo de 13, nos dividimos en 4 grupos- 2 grupos en tierra y 2 grupos en canoa / kayak.

 

Yo estaba feliz en un kayak! Durante la encuesta, remamos por el borde de la laguna de Sonso. Desde mi pasantía previa con EFTA, en Alaska, estuve trabajando mucho en kayak así que la posibilidad de volver en un kayak me trajo un poco de nostalgia.

 

Durante nuestra encuesta nos detuvimos cerca del borde de la laguna para escuchar y observar cuidadosamente durante 10 minutos cada 100 metros. Tomando nota de el tiempo inicio y el final de la encuesta, las especies que observamos, información sobre el hábitat, y las coordenadas con GPS de cada uno de nuestros puntos de encuesta.

 

Desde visitas anteriores de el equipo anticipamos ver una gran cantidad de gallinula común (Gallenula galeata), pero para nuestra sorpresa vimos y escuchamos muchas fochas común (Fulica americana), una especie que he observado antes en California, EE.UU..

 

Todos nos divertimos mucho durante la encuesta. Aprendí mucho en tan poco tiempo. Aprendí los nombres en latín, las características visuales y de vocalización para identificar los rálidos en Colombia, y con mas practica se hace un poco mas fácil.

 

Mi próxima aventura con Calidris implica viajar al Caribe de Colombia para reunirme con un grupo de aves que estoy familiarizada desde mi pasantía en Córdova, Alaska -AVES PLAYERAS!

Las Aves de Cali- Colombia (The birds of Cali- Colombia)


(La traducción al Español está por debajo de la sección en Inglés)

Living in Cali- Colombia is an opportunity that I am happy to have experienced in my life. As someone born and raised in Los Angeles Cali-fornia, the city life is something that I am very familiar with, but unlike Los Angeles, in the city of Cali you wake up to the sound of wild parrots flying overhead each morning! When I recently arrived I was puzzled to hear an unfamiliar call each night, I thought to myself that it was strange that a bird would be calling/singing at night. To my surprise, I was told it was not a bird- it was a non-native gecko (Lepididactylus lugubris)! Since then, I try to catch a glimpse of the little geckos, but they are very shy and my excitement for them is not appreciated.

 

The first bird that I identified from outside my host families living room window was the very noisy great kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus). The great kiskadee is a large flycatcher, a very beautiful and common bird here in Cali. Just like the varied thrushes’ songs bring my nostalgia for my time in Cordova- Alaska, I know the sound of the great kiskadee will be the bird that reminds me of my time here in the city of Cali. Aside from the great kisadee, there are numerous other species that I have never seen in my life that I frequently observe in the city, as I walk to work at the Calidris Associations office. The ruddy ground dove (Columbina talpacoti) is a small New World tropical dove that fascinates me every time I see it. Not only because it reminds me of the doves of my city, but due to its size! These little doves, just like the least sandpipers I saw in Cordova, trigger an amusement due to their size, measuring about 17 cm (~6.7 in) in length! Other common birds that I see in the city are blue-gray tanagers (Thraupis episcopus), saffron finchs (Sicalis flaveola), vermilion flycatchers (Pyrocephalus rubinus), and smooth-billed anis (Crotophaga ani)

 

It’s a whole new ball game when you step out of the city. I had the opportunity to do so this weekend and wow, I am speechless! The amount of diversity and beauty exceeds that of my childhood dreams. My dreams that were derived from books and documentaries based in Colombia- South America were now my reality. Accompanying me was Jeisson who works as a biological field technician with Calidris and is an amazing birder, and Jo Se a biologist and friend of Jeisson’s. Throughout our 7 hour birding adventure Jeisson made sure to document all of our bird encounters. We came to a total of 62 species, of which 61 of these species were new to me (lifers). I share with you a few photographs that I took of my lifers:

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Thank you for reading and stay tuned to hear about my adventure with Calidris during their first every Rail Rally in Colombia!

Rally flyer


 

 (Español)

Poder vivir en la ciudad de Cali – Colombia es una experiencia que me hace feliz. Como alguien nacida y criada en Los Angeles California, la vida de la ciudad es algo con que estoy muy familiarizada pero, a diferencia de Los Angeles, ¡en la ciudad de Cali me despierto con el grito de los loros silvestres volando sobre la casa cada mañana! Cuando recién llegué me quedé perpleja al escuchar una llamada extraña cada noche, me dije a mí misma ¿que será ese extraño pájaro que canta cada noche? Pero para mi sorpresa, me dijeron que no era un pájaro, ¡era una lagartija (Lepididactylus lugubris) que no son nativas a Colombia! Desde entonces, intento mirar a las pequeñas lagartijas, pero son muy tímidas y mi emoción no es apreciada por ellas.

 

La primer ave que identifique desde la ventana de la primera familia que me adoptó durante mi pasantía (Fernando y Diana) fue el muy ruidoso Pitangus sulphuratus. Pitangus sulphuratus es un gran atrapamoscas, muy hermoso y un ave común aquí en Cali. Al igual que la canción de Ixoreus naevius que me trae nostalgia de mi tiempo en Cordova, Alaska, sé que el llamado de Pitangus sulphuratus será el ave que me recordará de mi aventura aquí en Cali. Aparte de Pitangus sulphuratus, hay muchas otras especies que nunca he visto en mi vida que se observan con frecuencia en la ciudad y durante el camino a la oficina de la Asociación Calidris. Columbina talpacoti, es una pequeña paloma/tortolita del nuevo mundo tropical que me fascina cada vez que la veo. No sólo porque me recuerda a las palomas/tortolitas de mi ciudad, sino también por su tamaño. Estas pequeñas palomas/tortolitas al igual que Calidris minutilla que vi en Cordova, desencadenan una admiración debido a su tamaño de 17 cm (6.7 pulgadas) de longitud. Otras aves comunes que he visto en la ciudad son Thraupis episcopus, Sicalis flaveola, Pyrocephalus rubinus y Crotophaga ani.

 

Es completamente diferente al salir de la ciudad. Tuve la oportunidad de vivirlo este fin de semana, y ¡guau, no tengo palabras para explicarlo! La cantidad de diversidad y belleza supera a la de mis sueños de infancia. Mis sueños que derivan de los libros y documentales basados en Colombia – Sur de América son ahora mi realidad. Durante este viaje de aventura para observar aves me acompañó Jeisson, quien trabaja como biólogo con Calidris y es un increíble pajarero, también fue Jo Sé un biólogo que es amigo de Jeisson. Durante nuestra aventura de siete horas, Jeisson registró todas las aves que observamos. Llegando a un total de 62 especies, de las cuales ¡61 eran nuevas para mí (lifer)! Comparto con ustedes algunas fotografías que he tomado de mis “lifers”:

 

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¡Muchas gracias por leer y continúen atentos para aprender sobre mi aventura con Calidris durante el primer Rally de Rálidos en Colombia!
Rally flyer

 
 
 

When it rains, it sprinkles

It’s incredible how marked the difference in climate is with only a few hours of driving distance from the coast. For all of the days I spent dancing in the rain of Newport, I am now tanning in the endless sunshine of Oregon’s central valley. Of course, there are very logical geographic reasons for this–crossing the mountains one is already very aware of the new conditions that lie on the other side. However informed you may be, the body is still always in shock, helplessly succumbing to the new environmental pressures. Within a few days, I had already forgotten what rain felt like, the scents of dampened soil were nothing but a memory, and I suddenly feared of melting if a drop were to miraculously fall on me.

And then, in the blink of an eye, came the rain. It only lasted a day and a half, but while it poured it seemed like an endless affair. Here at the cabin we watched the skies beyond the tree tops anxiously, awaiting to learn of our fate for the next field day. In my coastal spirit, I ventured out into the storm on my bicycle, trying to brave the cold for a quick workout. I quickly learned how weakened my defenses were–within minutes I was a freezing mess. I must have looked like a street dog with its tail between its legs. The land has long since recuperated: the few drops that did hydrate an over-parched landscape were quickly absorbed. The community, however, was still recovering from the phenomenon. Even until now, it is the talk of the town. At the grocery store yesterday, the cashier exclaimed how unexpectedly early the rains started this year. Anyone from the Coast would chuckle–what’s the harm in a little rain?

Dramatized reactions set aside, the rain does have a very real implication for our work. Rains makes it quite difficult to safely extract birds from mist nets. Their feathers get wet and don’t slide off of the netting easily, putting the bird at risk of getting too cold. On days with a slight bit of rain, all field operations shut down and we have to wait it out. The next morning involved a lot of sitting around the cabin discussing whether or not the periodic pauses in the storm made is feasible to open up nets for an hour or two. The risk was deemed too high–many of our sites are at least 40 minutes of a drive away, and it can take about 30 minutes to set up the site once we arrive. In the process of simply preparing to capture and collect data on birds we were likely to meet face-to-face with a wet situation.

So what do Field Technicians do on a rainy day? We recover from weeks of data collection by finally entering data and then prepare for another couple of weeks of furious data collection. My colleagues spent a few hours meticulously typing in data and I helped where I could with editing some sheets, drying materials, and stocking our kit for the upcoming days in the field.

Meanwhile, I also snuck in a cooking session of camping food and loaded the car. We were setting off to an overnight-session in a site behind a wildlife refuge. This means that we drive out the afternoon prior to the banding session, camp in a small grassy area next to the maintenance parking lot, and wake up the next morning to walk past rehabilitated lions and bears on our way to the site before the crack of dawn. It’s ironic to think that these animals are in cages, secured away from the public, yet we are walking towards the back country where they roam freely. I often take a peak through the fences to attempt facing my fears of large mammals. The bears don’t seem to pay me any mind–they’re too busy scratching their backs against the trees–but the low roar of the mountain lion never puts my nerves at ease. The chances of running into one in the field are close to none, but I still make a small prayer that the upcoming site visit won’t be a first.

Braving the rain was worth it. The mist and dampened weather made it a slow day for us, but we caught site of many migrating species at the site. The Cedar Waxwings are in full swing right now, and we happened across a Western Tanager and a Common Yellowthroat. In the distance we could hear the calls of a Red-shouldered Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks, while an unidentified raptor (possibly a Cooper’s Hawk) soared overhead. Rain or not, the birds are still moving, and so are we in our quest to understand and protect them.

Bird on!