Spring Is Coming: Get Involved in Community Science!

by Joe Liebezeit, Staff Scientist & Avian Conservation Manager; Candace Larson, Field Biologist; Teresa Wicks, Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator

Spring is at our doorstep and birds are starting to sing—time to get involved in our community science projects! Bird Alliance of Oregon’s Community Science program spans the state, from the iconic coast to the high desert of eastern Oregon as well as the Portland Metro region. We engage members of the public to help us better understand the ecology of birds and other wildlife and the habitats they depend on—and have fun doing it! These efforts enable us to accomplish our conservation initiatives, inform wildlife protection, and influence public policy. Because these projects are outdoors and can be done alone or in small groups, we are happy to encourage your participation using social distancing guidelines for COVID-19 safety. Below we highlight some of our spring and summer projects.

Candace doing community science at Fernhill at sunset

Portland Metro

Washington County Greenspace Bird Surveys: Bird Alliance of Oregon and Clean Water Services are partnering to understand how bird communities are responding to habitat restoration and enhancement at Washington County greenspaces. If you love to bird, no matter what your skill level, consider helping with surveys at Cook Park in Tigard, Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove, and at the PCC Rock Creek Greenspace in Bethany. Submit your data to eBird and know that your effort will contribute toward a better understanding of bird life in urban greenspaces and help inform restoration and management efforts.

Coastal Projects

Plover Patrol: We partner with Oregon State Parks to help monitor Snowy Plovers at four designated management areas on the North Coast. The Western Snowy Plover is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but its population is rebounding through intensive management efforts. In recent years, plovers have returned to nest at some sites where they haven’t nested in decades. We need your help to conduct presence/absence surveys, resight color-banded birds, and monitor nests.

Western Snowy Plover, photo by Mick Thompson

Oregon Black Oystercatcher Project: Since 2015 we, and partners including coastal Bird Alliance of Oregon chapters, Friends groups, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, have been monitoring nests of this iconic coastal bird of conservation concern along the entire Oregon coast. Findings from our monitoring are helping inform efforts to protect important rocky habitats on Oregon’s coast from Ecola Point to Cape Blanco.

Seabird Colony Monitoring: This project promotes wider recognition of Oregon’s marine reserves/marine protected areas and seabird conservation through local community participation, outreach, and education. The monitoring provides baseline information on Oregon’s seabird population adjacent to two of Oregon’s Marine Reserves at Cape Perpetua and Cape Falcon.

Eastern Oregon

Project IBIS: Help Bird Alliance of Oregon and our partners, including the Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative, better understand how ranchlands near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are supporting birds. Over the past several years, conservationists have been working with ranchers on replacing aging flood-irrigation structures with newer structures that are expected to increase waterbird habitat. Follow our simple survey protocol next time you eBird one of Oregon’s premier birding destinations and contribute to conservation!

White-faced Ibis, photo by Tara Lemezis

Malheur Shorebird Survey: Help Bird Alliance of Oregon and our partners, including USFWS and ODFW, monitor how the playas in the Double O unit of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are supporting the interior population of Snowy Plovers and other migrating and breeding shorebirds, and how these populations have changed over time. These surveys require sign-up ahead of time and will be conducted in teams with refuge and Bird Alliance of Oregon staff.

Marsh Madness: Help Bird Alliance of Oregon and our partners collect information about marsh bird distribution and abundance in the Harney Basin. As water availability becomes more variable, it’s important to better understand which marshes at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and in the greater Harney Basin, are providing adequate habitat for secretive marsh birds like Sora and Virginia Rail. These surveys require sign-up ahead of time and will be conducted in teams with Bird Alliance of Oregon staff.

How To Get Involved

For general information about Community Science programs, visit our webpage or contact Joe Liebezeit (jliebezeit@birdallianceoregon.org). Also contact Joe to get involved in one or more of the coastal projects. To sign up for the Washington County Greenspace Bird Survey projects, contact Candace Larson (clarson@birdallianceoregon.org), and for our Eastern Oregon projects, contact Teresa Wicks (twicks@birdallianceoregon.org). Upcoming trainings for these projects are posted on our events calendar. We look forward to welcoming you to the growing community of Bird Alliance of Oregon community scientists!