PUBLIC PROFILE: John Alexander, Executive Director Klamath Bird Observatory
Rogue Valley Messenger: Your organization indicates that birds are indicator species. What are birds in southern Oregon currently telling us?
John Alexander: Results from our long-term monitoring and research show that many western forest birds are in decline, likely as a result of intensive forest and river management, including fire suppression and dam building. Many of our declining bird species benefit from conservation and management efforts designed to protect and restore old-growth, oak woodland, and riverine forests. Disturbance from naturally occurring fires and floods is an important process that helps to maintain these habitats. We have shown time and time again that investing in conservation saves species and results in greater sustainability and resilience for the forests that surround us.
RVM: You host educational programs. Are there some coming up in late summer and fall?
JA: In addition to our Wings and Wine Gala on September 22 at Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland, we are offering many other community education opportunities. This fall we are offering free public visits to our banding stations at Klamath Bird Observatory’s Upper Klamath Field Station and at Crater Lake National Park. Also, our fall and winter Talks and Walks series will include two-part classes with an evening presentation followed by a field trip; these events feature local birding experts, conservation professionals, authors, and artists. We are also planning a new Pub Talks series later this winter. Visit our website for more information about KBO’s Community Education Programs; from there you can view and sign up for our Klamath Call Note Blog where we post the latest news about our upcoming events.
RVM: Is there one species that is particularly interesting or active right now?
JA: Birds are on the move, especially the migrants. Watch for Hermit Warblers bringing their young down from the tall conifers where they nest, down into the lake, river, and streamside habitats where they are fattening up for their southward migration. Klamath Bird Observatory is using new technologies to track these birds so we can learn more about where specifically they spend their winters in western Mexico and central America.
RVM: Do you have a favorite hike for spotting or listening to local birds?
JA: The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are great places to hike and watch birds. The trails weave up to the two plateaus through oak woodland forests. These oak forests host the highest diversity of bird species in southern Oregon. Oak woodland restoration efforts at Table Rocks are helping some of our most at risk birds, including the Rufous Hummingbird, a long-distance migrant, and the Oak Titmouse, a year-round resident. Most of the oak woodlands in the western US have been destroyed, making the forests of the Table Rocks a rare treasure. Klamath Bird Observatory works with the Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network to protect and restore the oak woodlands at Table Rocks and throughout southern Oregon and northern California.
RVM: Birding has become high tech! What Apps are available to help people better engage as birders?
JA: eBird Northwest is part of a world-wide community science program. eBird transforms your bird sightings into science and conservation. You can also use eBird to track your bird lists, plan trips, find birds, explore range maps and bird migration, and learn more about and get involved with science-driven bird conservation efforts. The online website and telephone applications are free.