Bear Creek Community Bird Survey

Bear Creek Greenway. Credit: Frank Lospalluto

In September of 2020, multiple fires impacted much of the riparian (riverside) habitat along the Bear Creek Greenway in Jackson County, Oregon. The Greenway is a 20-mile paved path that runs through a large swath of riparian habitat in an otherwise mostly urban part of the Rogue Valley. It has high recreation and wildlife habitat values and the riparian vegetation provides critical habitat for many bird species that rely on deciduous plants and nearby water to breed, survive the winter, or rest and refuel during migration.

The Rogue Valley Audubon Society, in partnership with Klamath Bird Observatory, Rogue River Watershed Council, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, and southern Oregon birders are coming together to monitor post-fire changes in the Bear Creek bird community as riparian vegetation naturally recovers, and as alterations are made to the Greenway to reduce fire risk.

The objectives of this survey are to 1) generate a long-term dataset to track changes in bird populations along Bear Creek over time, and 2) quantify how bird populations respond to habitat changes and recovery from the 2020 fires. Surveys will take place in severely burned, moderately burned, and unburned areas for comparison.

Yellow Warbler. Credit: James Livaudais

Surveys began in early 2021 and take place during the second and fourth weeks of each month. Surveys start within an hour of sunrise and take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete. Volunteers walk two half-mile transects along Bear Creek, create a tally of bird species detected, and upload observations into eBird. More information about the survey protocol, site maps and descriptions, data entry, and how to access the sign-up sheet can be found at the Bear Creek Community Bird Survey webpage: https://www.roguevalleyaudubon.org/bear-creek-surveys/.

This survey is meant for relatively experienced birders who can confidently identify all or nearly all birds they are likely to see or hear in riparian habitat in southern Oregon, and who are comfortable walking 2-3 miles on a flat, smooth surface. Less experienced birders are welcome to join a more experienced friend or survey leader. If you are an experienced birder, please consider using your skills to help monitor the recovery of this valuable habitat and community resource. Interested volunteers can sign up anytime by emailing bearcreekbirdsurvey@gmail.com.