Time to Get Involved in Community Science Projects Around the State!

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

Spring is in full swing and so are 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 as well as 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. Here we highlight some of our projects to get involved in this spring/summer season.

A photo of a Snowy Plover family, two babies and one adult on the beach.
Western Snowy Plover, photo by Mick Thompson

Portland Metro

Washington County Greenspace Bird Surveys: Bird Alliance of Oregon and Clean Water Services are partnering on a series of surveys to understand how bird communities respond to habitat restoration and enhancement at Washington County greenspaces. If you love to bird—no matter your skill level—consider helping with surveys at Cook Park in Tigard, Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove, and PCC Rock Creek Greenspace in Bethany (this last site is currently closed due to COVID-19, but we are hopeful it will open for surveys this summer!). Use a simple, eBird-based protocol to log your observations, and help us better understand bird life in urban greenspaces and how restoration and management efforts support our feathered neighbors.

Coastal Projects

Brown Pelican Survey: This project is a joint effort of the West Coast Bird Alliance of Oregon network, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners. The goal is to conduct biannual surveys to help define distribution and abundance of Brown Pelicans and track shifts in population structure of this bird of conservation concern. This project is helping inform our efforts to protect forage fish species like anchovy—a key prey base for pelicans and other seabirds. In Oregon we survey at 18 historic roost sites, from Clatsop Spit on the north coast to the Chetco River mouth near the California border. This year the survey will be on May 15. If you like pelicans and spending time at the ocean, consider helping out.

Oregon Black Oystercatcher Project: The oystercatcher is an iconic bird of coastal rocky habitats and also a species of conservation concern. Since 2015 Bird Alliance of Oregon and partners, including coastal Bird Alliance of Oregon chapters, Friends groups, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have been monitoring oystercatcher nests along the entire Oregon coast. Findings from this monitoring have been included in an inventory now informing efforts to protect important rocky habitats from Ecola Point to Cape Blanco.

Plover Patrol: We partner with Oregon State Parks to help monitor this species at four Snowy Plover 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 north coast sites where they hadn’t nested in decades. We need your help to conduct presence/absence surveys, resight color-banded birds, and monitor nests!

Eastern Oregon

Project IBIS: Help Bird Alliance of Oregon and our partners, including the Harney Basin Wetlands Collaborative, 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!

Visit Bird Alliance of Oregon’s Community Science page to learn more about these and other projects. Contact Joe Liebezeit to get involved in the Portland metro and coastal projects (jliebezeit@birdallianceoregon.org) and Teresa Wicks for Project IBIS (twicks@birdallianceoregon.org). Upcoming trainings are on our events calendar. We record most trainings, so if you miss one we can share the recording.