That’s a Wrap on MAPS!

That’s a Wrap on MAPS!

by Max Frankenberry, Assistant Bird Bander

After nine weeks of banding birds this summer, JHWF’s first MAPS season has officially come to an end. Every Wednesday and Friday sunrise, from June 6th to August 3rd, was spent setting up nets, collecting data on the birds we caught, and attaching small aluminum USGS-issued bands to their legs. All in all, this season produced 677 total bird captures, with 453 new birds banded this season.

Bird banding is a highly-effective research method used worldwide for tracking bird movement, survival rates, and reproduction success. Banders are trained in specialized bird handling, safety, and data collection, and can only legally band birds if covered under state and federal permits. Each band number is unique to each individual bird. Banders report both new bands placed on previously unbanned birds, and bands that are on birds that they recapture after already being banded before. Other data like age, sex, weight, and various conditions are also collected and reported, forming the massive database of information that USGS and various ornithological groups manage and analyze.

 

Lead Bird Bander Kate Maley attempts to age this Red-shafter Flicker (Colaptes auratus) by inspecting flight feather characteristics

 

Assistant Bird Bander Max Frankenberry measures the wing chord length of a Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) Photo credit: David Hopkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAPS stands for Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship. It is a specific banding program begun by the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP), with a goal of better understanding survival rate and nesting success while birds are at their summer breeding grounds. JHWF bands birds following IBP protocol — opening nets at sunrise and closing them six hours later — and submits data to the IBP database. This builds on the years of previous data collected on birds in Jackson Hole from Teton Science Schools (TSS) and Teton Raptor Center (TRC), who helped transition the program to us this year. Our two banding locations, Teton Science Schools’ Kelly campus and Boyle’s Hill on their Jackson campus, have been contributing data without a break in observations for 28 and 16 years respectively. Kelly is one of the longest operating MAPS stations in the country! Long-term, uninterrupted data sets are crucial to understanding trends in bird population shifts. Thanks again to TSS and TRC for making the transitions between organizations so smooth!

The 2018 season ended with 180 recaptures (out of 677 total captures) of previously banded birds, with several of these birds having been banded even before the 2017 season. Much like years before and not surprising to those of us that live in Jackson Hole, our most popular species caught were Yellow Warblers and American Robins (AMROs). In total, 109 new Yellow Warblers (or YEWAs in banding code) had bands placed on their legs this year, many of them young birds born this summer. YEWAs are doing just fine in our valley! American Robins were our second most common bird this year, with 57 new birds banded. While we had constant flows of incoming YEWAs and AMROs, we also had a few particularly exciting individuals as well. By far the most unexpected were a pair of Belted Kingfishers, each caught a week apart from each other! While kingfishers are not uncommon here, they are rarely caught in banding stations, mostly due to their preference for flying much higher than the nets and perching on trees overhanging water.

Male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

Female Belted Kingfishers have a rusty belly band (Megaceryle alcyon)

 

Belted Kingfishers have detailed white patterns on their flight feathers – we can use these to figure out how old the birds are!

 

 

We were excited to say the least. Other species that graced us with their surprising presence were a very vocal Olive-sided Flycatcher and a juvenile Brown Creeper. We also had 40 birds that were captured and released but not banded, including large number of Rufous, Calliope and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds (our banding permit does not allow hummingbird banding – that requires additional specialized training). Overall we captured 45 different species of birds over 9 weeks. This guaranteed that we never had a slow morning at either banding station!

Other wildlife sightings always kept us on our toes throughout the season – early mornings at Kelly and Boyle’s Hill allowed us views of several moose and calves, foxes, a grizzly bear, a family of otters, and even an elusive mountain lion! Sunrise work with birds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem meant bear spray and our favorite badly-sung show tunes had to always be at the ready.

 

Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)

Male Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

Juvenile Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)

 

We want to thank all who have made this program possible. This effort to track birds in our valley really does contribute extremely valuable data to a great continent-wide program. The MAPS data has resulted in many highly regarded publications on the state of bird populations in North America and new ways to manage and preserve them. Thanks for being “for the birds”!

Below is a full list of the species we captured and banded this season. Look them up and try to spot some of them in your own backyard!

  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Red-naped Sapsucker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Red-shafted Flicker
  • Olive-Sided Flycatcher
  • Western Wood-Pewee
  • Willow Flycatcher
  • Dusky Flycatcher
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Violet-Green Swallow
  • Black-Capped Chickadee
  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Creeper
  • House Wren
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • American Robin
  • Swainson’s Thrush
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Gray Catbird
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Audubon’s Warbler
  • MacGillivray’s Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • Western Tanager
  • Black-headed Grosbeak
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Brewer’s Sparrow
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Mountain White-Crowned Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Bullock’s Oriole
  • Cassin’s Finch
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch

 

 

 

 

Bullock’s… Wait, BALTIMORE!

Bullock’s… Wait, BALTIMORE!

by Max Frankenberry, JHWF Assistant Bird Bander

This past Saturday, May 19, 2018, JHWF staff participated in the annual Wyoming Game & Fish Department bird survey of the South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area, just south of Jackson. Our group of volunteer birders, including enthusiastic Nature Mappers and Jackson Hole Bird & Nature Club members, met bright and early Saturday morning, led by our local bird nerd expert volunteer, Tim Griffith. Tim has been crucial to organizing Game & Fish bird surveys of the South Park area since 2016, which have so far logged 96 different species for the area! Our pack split into two groups, one to tackle waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors around the ponds, the other to take on “Warbler Alley,” the thick cottonwood tree groves hugging the backwaters of the Snake River to the southeast. What an appropriate nickname that was – Yellow Warblers dotted most every tree in South Park, and were joined by the radiant Yellow-rumped, Wilson’s and MacGillivary’s Warblers as well. It was a different traveler from the south, however, that took everyone by surprise.

south park wildlife management area annual bird survey jackson wy

‘Warbler’s neck’ is a common occurrence on a bird survey.

After a busy four hours of hiking and birding the survey was winding down, and brunch was on the brain. But birding tends to deliver the bombshells at the last moments, and Saturday was no different. Jon Mobeck, our team’s oriole-obsessed leader shouted. “Bullock’s! Wait… BALTIMORE!” In a low hawthorn tree not 50 feet from us, was not only a Bullock’s Oriole, a gorgeous but fairly common bird in Jackson Hole, but next to it was a Baltimore Oriole, a normally much more eastern cousin. Historical records vary, but this bird may be one of less than a dozen ever reported in the state of Wyoming, and likely less than a handful have ever been seen in Teton County. What a find! The Bullock’s and Baltimore seemed to follow each other, flying from tree to tree after one another. Perhaps the Baltimore had lost his way on his normal spring route up from Central America, noticed a bird that resembled his brilliant orange color, and followed that Bullock’s back to our western mountains, far away from his normal east-of-the-plains summer vacation.

Baltimore Oriole and Bullock's Oriole found on bird survey Jackson Hole

A Baltimore Oriole (left) is a rare find in Jackson Hole. The Bullock’s Oriole (right) is more of a local. Photos: Kate Maley

It’s moments like these that make us realize how special close-to-home wild places like South Park are. The diversity of wildlife in these areas can be astounding. But problems exist in the fact that unless these places are studied or surveyed, we may never know the rarities or struggling populations there. This is the issue Nature Mapping Jackson Hole is helping to solve – by submitting data from your commute from work, a dog-walk in a Jackson city park or a backpacking trip through the Gros Ventre, you are helping to build our human community’s understanding of the wildlife community that surrounds us. And every data point really is significant! You don’t often find rare birds like the Baltimore Oriole, but it’s very possible that the deer you saw driving home could represent the beginning of a muley movement exploring a new feeding ground in Jackson Hole. The data you enter from these sightings help JHWF’s partners to prepare management decisions that inspire positive interaction between humans and the wildlife moving into these areas. Knowing that your effort can directly benefit our local species is a reward in itself, and who knows – maybe your attention to wildlife developed from Nature Mapping will lead you to that once-in-a-lifetime animal.

Birding in South Park Jackson Hole Wyoming

Max Frankenberry spots a Common Merganser on a back channel of the Snake River through Wingspan Optics binoculars.

South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area Species Count 2018 Surveyed by 22 Participants

American Coot 3
American Crow 1
American Goldfinch 11
American Kestrel 13
American Robin 74
American White Pelican 38
American Wigeon 9
Bald Eagle 6
BALTIMORE ORIOLE 1
Bank Swallow 4
Barn Swallow 6
Barrow’s Goldeneye 16
Belted Kingfisher 4
Black-billed Magpie 9
Black-capped Chickadee 24
Black-headed Grosbeak 2
Blue-winged Teal
Brewer’s Blackbird 1
Broad-tail Hummingbird 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 6
Bufflehead
Bullock’s Oriole 4
Calliope Hummingbird 6
Canada Goose 114
Cedar Waxwing
Chipping Sparrow 2
Cinnamon Teal 47
Cliff Swallow 7
Common Merganser 37
Common Raven 15
Common Yellowthroat
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Dark-eyed Junco
Double-crested Cormorant
Dusky Flycatcher
Eared Grebe
Eastern Kingbird
European Starling 21
Gadwall 84
Gray Catbird 1
Great Blue Heron 6
Green-tailed Towhee 1
Green-winged Teal 2
House Wren 14
Killdeer 12
Lazuli Bunting
Lesser Scaup 7
Lincoln Sparrow
MacGillivary’s Warbler 3
Mallard 52
Marsh Wren 5
Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Chickadee
Mourning Dove
N. Rough Wing Swallow 11
Northern Flicker 19
Northern Shoveler
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Osprey 6
Pied-billed Grebe
Pine Siskin
Redhead Duck
Red-naped Sapsucker
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Red-winged Blackbird 62
Ring-billed Gull 2
Ring-necked Duck 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 7
Ruddy Duck 4
Sandhill Crane 3
Savannah Sparrow 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Song Sparrow 51
Sora 3
Spotted Sandpiper 24
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Tree Swallow 219
Trumpeter Swan 2
Turkey Vulture 6
Vesper Sparrow 2
Violet-green Swallow 3
Virginia Rail 1
Western Meadowlark 3
Western Tanager 1
Western Wood Pewee
Western/Clark’s Grebe
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
White-crowned Sparrow 3
White-faced Ibis
Wilson’s Phalarope
Wilson’s Snipe
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Wood Duck
Yellow Warbler 130
Yellow-headed Blackbird 37
Yellow-rumped Warbler 94

Species Total 68

Louisianans and Barbed Wire in the Rain

Louisianans and Barbed Wire in the Rain

by Jon Mobeck, Executive Director

A steady rain saturated the ground as I looked out the window. It was 5:30 a.m. on the day of a fence pull – Saturday, May 12. It’s hard not to feel that a bit more sleep would be a better choice than pulling down barbed wire fences, but that fleeting thought is dismissed as I think about the others who are doing – and maybe thinking – the same thing. I’ve done this work in the rain before, but nowhere near as many times as those key “Fence Team” volunteers who I would join later that morning. And then I have the thought of all the people who have done this over the past two decades, in all sorts of weather conditions, in any terrain. There was never really a doubt that we would pull down fence that day.

On this day, we were scheduled to benefit from a large volunteer crew generously offered by EcoTour Adventures. EcoTour was hosting a group of 16 students from a school in Louisiana along with an equal number of parents. While visiting (vacationing) here, the Louisianans would see the typically amazing sites of Jackson Hole, experience exhilarating adventures, and learn about the area’s wildlife and natural gifts from EcoTour’s exceptional guides. Because of EcoTour’s commitment to the area’s wildlife, they encourage their guests to participate in activities that help preserve what makes this place special.

ecotour fence project hogback wyoming

On this day, though, with rain coming down and more rain forecast throughout the day, I had assumed that the group would cancel, and I wouldn’t have blamed them for a second. After all, they were on vacation. Pulling down barbed wire fences in the rain is not high on the “to-do” list for most of the vacationing public.

So at 7:22 a.m., when EcoTours CEO Taylor Phillips texted: “OK we are all in for the fence pull. Expected arrival 9:15. Yahoo!” I was surprised. I knew I would be meeting our indefatigable Fence Team volunteer leaders Gretchen, Steve and Randy since we had all decided that we were going no matter the weather, but now the prospect of our small team working through the rain turned into the excitement of a huge group (41) of us doing so together.

wildlife friendly fence project hoback wyoming

As it turned out, the rain was relatively light throughout most of the project, and I was amazed by the resilience of the Louisianans. I suppose they are accustomed to rain, but as one of the parents – James – said, “We don’t get to do anything like this in Louisiana.” The Louisianans worked for 3 hours with us, and it sure seemed like they were having a good time. That knowledge filled me with joy. Here all of us were, in the rain, removing barbed wire fences to make things easier for wildlife. And it was fun! And it reminded me of how great it is to share such an experience with new people, from a different place. We’re all so similar, and we all can do so much together!

Of course, we do this for the wildlife. On this occasion, we worked in an area at the northernmost end of the recently mapped Red Desert-to-Hoback Mule Deer Migration Route. The Wyoming Migration Initiative elucidated this 150-mile route through extensive GPS collaring and subsequent mapping that is now recognized and discussed around the world. Each spring, mule deer that were once thought to be a resident population of the Red Desert region migrate across and through many roads, houses, industrial developments, and about 100 fences before finding summer range in the greater Hoback area. We worked near those summer ranges, where they will spend considerable time, removing obstacles that can separate fawns from does, and just generally make their route more challenging.

The northern end of the Red Desert to Hoback Mule Deer Migration Route, as identified by Wyoming Migration Initiative, which includes summer range for mule deer.

We were on Bridger-Teton National Forest Land, where we removed about ½ mile of nasty barbed wire fences. It is a privilege to be able to support our agency partners who couldn’t possible deploy enough staff members to remove or maintain every fence in the region. Our volunteer fence pullers pitch in to care for our public lands in partnership with those terrific land managers.

Hundreds of individuals have helped in this way over the past two decades. Some of whom have been on hundreds of fence projects. I’m personally grateful to all of them, and when I pull my boots on to go work on fences, I know that I’m part of something much bigger than me, in so many ways. It is a big, impressive landscape. It is an amazingly long mule deer migration. There are so many people over many years. There is still so much to do.

Thank you to those great young people from Louisiana and their parents, and to EcoTour Adventures. We’re all a part of a great tradition of giving back to the land!

Opening Day: Snake River Float Trips 2018

Opening Day: Snake River Float Trips 2018

snake river float trip wooden boat

“You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.” – Jim Harrison

On Sunday, May 6, I had the privilege of participating in my first Nature Mapping Snake River float trip. And what a trip it was!

Along with fellow “bird nerds” Jon Mobeck and Tim Griffith (trip leader/coordinator) and guide Adam “Dutch” Gottschling, I spent two hours of the morning floating the eight-mile stretch of the Snake River between the Wilson bridge and Jackson Hole Vintage Adventure’s Tipi Camp.

Having recently moved to Jackson from the relatively flat plains and forests of the upper Midwest, I have a long way to go before I look up at the grandeur of the Tetons with anything but complete and utter awe. So, had we merely floated for two hours looking only at the river and surrounding mountains, without seeing any wildlife, I personally would have considered my Sunday morning well spent.

That said, we ended up observing over 40 species of birds, mammals and amphibians along the river and in the area immediately surrounding the Tipi Camp. Not bad for the first week of May! (Indeed, I’ve since learned that this is on the high end compared to historic species counts.)

Snake River Float Trip Birding

Highlights included 54 American White Pelicans (the largest number ever recorded on one trip), one Swainson’s Hawk, one Merlin, a Greater Yellowlegs and two moose. Though, based on the excitement in the boat, to call the Merlin and Greater Yellowlegs mere highlights is a gross understatement. For good reason too! It turns out only a handful of each species have been spotted by volunteer citizen scientists since the trips began in 2010.

I’d like to say it was beginner’s luck, but I’ve spent enough time appreciating the wild spectacle that is nature to know that to try to claim any credit is silly at best. Besides, who knows what will be seen throughout the rest of this summer? Either way, this trip was an awesome start to what is sure to be an amazing float trip season. Even without such a notable species list, I feel lucky to have been a part of such an experience—to have spent the morning exploring an area of nature that few have the chance to see in a way that even fewer are able to see it.

JHWF partners with AJ DeRosa’s Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures to provide this incredible opportunity to float down the eight-mile stretch of the Snake River between Wilson Bridge and South Park and to collect important data about the various species of mammals, birds and amphibians that use it. Trips take place every Sunday morning from May 6, 2018 through the end of September. Cost is $30 per participant. To learn more, visit the Snake River Float Trip webpage or call the office at 307-739-0968. To sign up for an upcoming trip, contact project coordinator and expert birder Tim Griffith at timgrif396@gmail.com.

Snake River Float Trip Counting Moose

Species Counts Along the Snake River

May 6, 2018 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Canada Goose 144
Mallard 56
Barrow’s Goldeneye 1
Common Merganser 24
American White Pelican 54
Great Blue Heron  3
Turkey Vulture  4
Osprey  1
Bald Eagle  6
Swainson’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  3
Spotted Sandpiper  10
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Belted Kingfisher  4
Northern Flicker  4
Merlin  1
Black-billed Magpie  6
American Crow  14
Common Raven  3
Tree Swallow  50
Bank Swallow  5
Cliff Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  11
Mountain Bluebird  7
American Robin  31
Yellow Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)  5
White-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  47
Red-winged Blackbird  11
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Brewer’s Blackbird  7
Moose 2
Marmot 2

Species Counts at Jackson Hole Vintage Adventure’s Tipi Camp

May 6, 2018 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM

Canada Goose 3
Mallard 3
Green-winged Teal 2
Common Merganser 2
Ruffed Grouse 1
American White Pelican 4
Osprey 2
Killdeer 1
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Downy Woodpecker 1
Common Raven 1
Tree Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
American Robin 5
Yellow Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) 5
Dark-eyed Junco 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 4
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Brewer’s Blackbird 2
Chipmunk 1
Frogs ? (unable to get an exact count)

Snake River Float Trip

Greater Yellowlegs!!

Mountain Bluebird Classic Group Bike Ride Raises Funds for JHWF’s Research and Banding Efforts

Mountain Bluebird Classic Group Bike Ride Raises Funds for JHWF’s Research and Banding Efforts

Mountain Bluebird Classic

Cyclists gather at Bradley-Taggart parking lot for leg two of the Mountain Bluebird Classic.

Jackson Hole Cycling’s unique fundraiser on two wheels this past Saturday, April 28, 2018, brought in over $1,200 for Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation’s (JHWF) Bluebird Nestbox Project.

The “Mountain Bluebird Classic” is an annual spring group ride of the area’s road cyclists. Named for the mountain bluebirds who are busy building nests in cavities during the spring, the cyclists meet at the Home Ranch Visitor Center and ride to the Bradley-Taggart Lake parking lot to meet others who want to ride a shorter 30-mile version of the social ride (from Bradley-Taggart parking lot to Signal Mountain and back).

This year, the National Elk Refuge (NER) was able to open the north pathway early so the cyclists braving the longer 70-mile version of the road ride were able to see many of the nest boxes along the NER’s western border that JHWF installed and have been monitoring since 2003.

Last year, Jackson Hole Cycling’s executive director, Forest Dramis, asked participants to make donations for JHWF’s Nature Mapping Jackson Hole project, which recently added mountain bluebird banding and resighting to its conservation and research efforts. The 2017 ride brought in almost $300 while the 2018 ride raised over $1,200, so far. JH Cycling matched the riders’ donations this year.

Approximately 60 riders took part in this year’s event, which featured “bluebird” skies and unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid-60’s. Two riders even came from out of town for the scenic ride. One cyclist who did the ride last year came back all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota to tackle the challenging social ride in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). Another traveled from California to ride with her nephew.

Cyclists at Signal Mountain For the Mountain Bluebird Classic

Cyclists regroup at the base of Signal Mountain during the Mountain Bluebird Classic.

The Mountain Bluebird Classic was envisioned eight years ago by avid cyclist and science educator Aaron Nydam who wanted to create an event that captures the spirit of cycling and is inclusive to most all levels.

About Jackson Hole Cycling:
A 501 (c)7 non-profit organization, Jackson Hole Cycling is a group of avid cyclists living in Jackson Hole, Wyo. They provide information and events that help people enjoy the some of the best riding in the country, both road and mountain. (www.jhcycling.org)

Mountain Bluebird Classic cyclists

Approximately 60 cyclists participated in the 2018 Mountain Bluebird Classic.

Celebrate Wildlife!

Enjoy monthly updates from JHWF and join us in creating a more wildlife-friendly community!

You have Successfully Subscribed!