Birder's Guide

MAY 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 44 of 51

43 May 2014 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community S n 2001, a serendipitous event occurred. Larry Snyder, a local farmer, was fshing with his kids at the Oliver Reservoir in Kimball, Nebraska, when a young lady named Cris Carnine came up to him and introduced herself. She was the frst Rocky Mountain Bird Ob- servatory (RMBO) biologist for Nebraska Prairie Partners, a collaboration between RMBO and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Her job was to engage land- owners and build awareness and knowl- edge about birds in western Nebraska. When Carnine showed Snyder a brochure of the many species she was studying, Sny- der noticed the Mountain Plover. He men- tioned to Carnine that he saw that bird and a nest on his farm two days prior. Carnine visited his farm and confrmed he had in- deed found a Mountain Plover nest. If there were an award for most elusive bird, Mountain Plover would be a strong candi- date. Nicknamed "Prairie Ghost", this sandy brown bird blends into its envi- ronment almost too well. Due to their dependence on bare ground for nest- ing, plovers are attracted to the disturbed and fallow felds that cul- tivated farmland provides. However, be- cause the Mountain Plover and its eggs are well-camoufaged, it's easy for a farmer to overlook a nest and cause accidental nest loss or damage. The following year, Carnine hired Sny- der part time to assist with roadside sur- veys, which revealed higher numbers of breeding plovers on agricultural felds than originally thought. The occurrence of plovers on farmland, and the general rarity of this species, led to a proactive response by state and federal agencies, landowners, and nonproft organizations to fnd solu- tions that protect nests and do not inhibit farming operations. Snyder was hired full time to assist in marking nests to increase nest protection. As of 2013, 79 landown- ers now work to protect the Mountain Plo- ver on more than 200,000 acres of farm- land by allowing RMBO to search for, locate, and mark nests. This is a model for suc- cess in working with private landowners. Many birders often express interest in seeing Mountain Plovers, but this elusive bird occurs primarily on private land and can be diffcult to spot without a guide. During the last weekend of April 2014, the town of Karval, Colorado, hosted its eighth annual Mountain Plover Festival with guided tours of private lands other- wise inaccessible to the general public. At this event, birders gained a better under- standing of how landowners and biologists work together to study and conserve nest- ing grounds for this elusive species, and meet some of the farmers and ranchers. In addition, RMBO and the Kimball Depart- ment of Tourism offered birding tours in the spring of 2014 throughout Kimball County, Nebraska, for Mountain Plover and other grassland songbirds. This is the frst year tours have been offered, and it is hoped to be the frst of many. Birders can continue to help this spe- cies by reporting sightings to eBird, local birding listservs, and RMBO. You can also help by supporting local birding in these rural communities. To learn more about the Mountain Plover and landowner in- volvement, check out the 2012 State of the Birds report . More information about the Mountain Plover and RMBO's successful partnerships with private landowners can be found on our website . I Mountain Plovers need very sparsely vegetated areas for nesting, whether that is grazed grassland or a fallow crop feld. Farmers and cattle ranchers are instrumen- tal in helping to create and maintain adequate habitat where native grazers, such as prairie-dogs and bison, are no longer abundant. Photo © Clay Edmondson A banded Mountain Plover chick in Kimball County, Nebraska. Photo © Colin Woolley Angela Dwyer Fort Collins, Colorado Mountain Plover Conservation Success on Private Lands 8-Mountain Plover1A.indd 43 5/22/14 7:58 PM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Birder's Guide - MAY 2014