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Conservation

Protecting critical habitat to safeguard Colorado's avian diversity

We seek to raise money for conservation projects that benefit Colorado birds and to respond to conservation threats and issues in the state.

The Colorado Birding Challenge (COBC) was created to provide an annual flow of funds to support specific bird conservation projects. Funds raised in this year’s COBC will:

  1. restore degraded grasslands in northern Mexico to help provide suitable habitat for wintering Colorado grassland birds whose populations are declining due to decreasing habitat
  2. build at least one radio telemetry (MOTUS) tower to help track the migratory routes, breeding sites, and wintering locations of threatened grassland bird species. This information will help focus conservation efforts. 

The grassland habitat restorations from COBC donations will take place within the Sustainable Grazing Network (SGN) in northern Mexico, which spans over 500,000 acres in three states and supports hundreds of thousands of threatened Colorado grassland birds in winter. Our partner, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, works with SGN landowners to enroll their ranches in a 15-year conservation and management agreement, while providing cost-share and technical assistance in developing and implementing an integrated range and wildlife management program for their property. The SGN aims to engage landowners as partners in grassland bird conservation through restoration of degraded lands and implementation of bird-friendly practices, while also making their ranches more ecologically and economically productive and resilient in the face of climate and land-use change. The photos below, from the state of Chihuahua, illustrate grassland habitat restoration with an image from 2018 and a photo of the same field in 2019, after newly-seeded grasses and forbs have emerged (figure 1).  These efforts restore suitable habitat for threatened grassland birds that historically have migrated to this area for the winter.

Donations from the Birding Challenge will also be used to extend the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. This is a network of automated radio telemetry stations that offers an effective method to learn about migratory bird movement. Coded radio transmitters are attached to grassland birds. An installed network of Motus towers can then track the locations of these birds, without recapture. This network will generate data that will help create new understanding of how grassland birds move throughout their life cycles. The Motus network is already well established on the east coast of North America, and analyses of the resulting data are helping to inform landscape-level management decisions. BCR is working to develop and implement a similar collaborative network in the Great Plains and in the Chihuahuan Desert region of Mexico. Some towers have already been built and installed in Colorado (figure 2). Funds from the 2021 COBC will be used by BCR to build at least one MOTUS tower. Read more about this tracking network.

 

We need your financial support to fund these exciting and significant conservation projects for grassland birds. Please make a general donation or a pledge for one of the COBC teams here. 100% of all donations will be used for these two projects to conserve threatened grassland birds.