Birds’-Eye View: An Ashland-based bird conservation organization

Klamath Bird Observatory’s conservation science is applied at local, regional, and international scales from its base in Ashland, Oregon.
August 8, 2022

Klamath Bird Observatory keeps a bird’s eye view of birds throughout the Pacific Northwest and ranges of migratory birds

By Elva Manquera-DeShields

The logo of the Klamath Bird Observatory, which is headquartered in Ashland.

In 2000, Klamath Bird Observatory was incorporated emerging from nearly 10 years of coordinated inventory and monitoring efforts in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. Today, we achieve bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the ranges of our migratory birds. Emphasizing high-caliber science and the role of birds as indicators, we inform and improve natural resource management. Recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we also nurture an environmental ethic through community outreach and education.

Of course, as a bird observatory, birds are the focus of our science. Birds are our focus because the study of birds serves as a cost-effective tool for learning about the health of our lands, air and water. Birds are indicators, and each different species serves as a measuring stick, its abundance and behavior providing invaluable information about specific aspects of our environment. They tell us about the condition and function of our forests; they help to gauge the health of the important riparian habitats that grow along and protect our rivers and streams.

A Yellow-Breasted Chat in the Ken Denman Wildlife Area near the Rogue River west of White City. Jim Livaudais photo

For example, the presence of various birds tells us many things about a forest — Pileated Woodpeckers and Brown Creepers indicate a healthy mix of standing large trees, both alive and dead, while the occurrence of Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Wilson’s Warblers, and Orange-crowned Warblers indicates a multi-story mix of conifers and hardwoods and a complex of forest-floor vegetation.

Klamath Bird Observatory’s conservation science is applied at local, regional, and international scales:

  1. Ongoing science programs inform conservation planning in the beautifully rugged and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of northern California and southern Oregon.
  2. Avian Knowledge Northwest, our interactive data center and decision support system, provides scientific resources across the Pacific Northwest.
  3. Professional education and international capacity building expands our influence hemispherically with partner-driven programs that protect birds throughout their breeding, migrating, and wintering seasons.

For one of our programs, we operate several long-term demographic monitoring stations throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. Each year, we capture and release several thousand individual birds representing more than 80 species. These efforts track population abundance, reproductive success, and survival of birds in the region.

Klamath Bird Observatory’s long-term monitoring program also trains tomorrow’s conservation leaders. Since the start of the student volunteer internship program in 1996, we have hosted over 290 interns from 17 different countries. Many have earned or are now pursuing advanced degrees related to conservation. Of the 54 international interns, 18 are active banding trainers and some are establishing their own bird monitoring and research programs in their home countries.

Klamath Bird Observatory Bird Banding Research Biologist Claire Stuyck demonstrates techniques used in data collection and bird banding while a pair of banding station visitors look on. KBO photo

In partnership with the National Park Service, Klamath Bird Observatory is hosting visitors at our Crater Lake bird banding station on Tuesday mornings. This is an amazing opportunity for the whole family to see migratory songbirds up close and learn about our long-term bird banding program. For five years visitors have observed the banding process from which Crater Lake National Park and KBO gain valuable information about the presence and diversity of songbird species, timing of migration, and productivity of local breeding birds. To register for a tour and to learn more about this free opportunity, you can visit the National Park Service website here: https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/bird-banding.htm.

We owe our success to committed donors, volunteers, staff, and partners who demonstrate that each of us can contribute to a legacy of abundant bird populations and healthy land, air, and water. To learn more about Klamath Bird Observatory and sign up for our newsletter, you can visit our website at KlamathBird.org.

Elva Manquera-DeShields is Science Communication, Outreach & DEI Manager for Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO). Email her at ejm@klamathbird.org.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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