UNIQUE BIRD SURVEY KEEPS TABS ON SHORTGRASS SPECIES
Report shows success of five-year-old wildlife grant program
FORT COLLINS, Co. -- Five years ago, the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO) began monitoring the population, distribution, and density of birds in the shortgrass prairie using a new protocol specifically designed for private and agriculture-dominated landscapes. The "Section Survey," as the method is called, is a road-based, point-count technique conducted within 1-square-mile sections -- the basic land management unit of the prairie. To date, RMBO has collected data on more than 100 bird species within Bird Conservation Region (BCR) 18, which includes Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Data from five U.S. Forest Service national grasslands -- Cimarron, Comanche, Kiowa, Pawnee, and Rita Blanca -- has been collected.
The Section Survey method is uniquely suited for the prairie and fills in information gaps not captured by larger, more nationally-based surveys for prairie bird species.
Filling these gaps is critical to prairie bird conservation because grassland species have experienced more widespread declines than any other group of North American birds. Several species found in this region are found nowhere else or are closely associated with the Great Plains grasslands. Many are species of concern or importance, as recognized by Partners In Flight , the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan , and state and federal wildlife agencies. Birds such as the ferruginous hawk, mountain plover, long-billed curlew, Cassin's sparrow, lark bunting, McCown's and chestnut-collared longspurs, and dickcissel are among these birds.
The surveys also help with planning and habitat conservation efforts of wildlife groups and agencies in this region, including the Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV), the Colorado Division of Wildlife , the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission , the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation , the U.S. Forest Service , and the Oklahoma City Zoo .
RMBO's Section Survey data is being used by the PLJV for its Hierarchical All-Bird Strategy -- a database that compares species density to suitable and available landscapes. Such information helps develop habitat conservation objectives for these
For more information about Section Surveys, email RMBO prairie conservation biologist David Hanni at firstname.lastname@example.org .