The August action for Year of the Bird is to discover your parks by birding your public lands. In the U.S., public lands support more than 1,000 bird species, one-third of which are endangered, threatened, or of conservation concern. Birds need a wide variety of habitat, food and nesting locations; our public lands represent bird habitat from arctic tundra to tropical rainforests – providing birds and other animals with a wide variety of protected habitats. This time of year, as many species are just starting to gear up for migration, these resource-rich lands can provide important stopover locations where birds can increase their body weight and the fat reserves needed for their long journeys ahead.
In 1903, shortly after the extinction of Passenger Pigeons in the wild, the first wildlife refuge was created by President Theodore Roosevelt to help protect Brown Pelican breeding sites in Florida. Today, many National Wildlife Refuges are birding hotspots; use this eBird tool to explore different National Wildlife Refuges. The National Park Service offers their Find Your Park website — search by activity “Birdwatching.” Or, from BLM’s Explore Your Public Lands page choose your location and the “Wildlife Viewing” activity to help plan your next birding adventure!
Public lands may be managed by state agencies, such as the Department of Natural Resources or State Parks divisions, or by federal agencies, such as the US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, or US Forest Service. It is always important to pay attention to the land status, as public lands are often bordered by private lands. While visiting public lands is often free, some special areas require a fee or a pass for entrance, so be sure to check ahead of time. The fees assessed go toward maintenance and operating costs, ensuring that these lands can be enjoyed for generations to come.
All of the public lands in OR and WA should have one or more eBird hotspots available for recording your visit. Please make a habit of using those hotspots, as that is the best way to make your eBird checklist useful to public lands managers. If you discover an area that does not have at least one hotspot created for it, please use the “Suggest as Hotspot” function to establish a new hotspot for that area. You can access the “Suggest as Hotspot” function either by editing your personal location in the “Manage My Locations” section of My eBird, or when you first create a new location, clicking on the “Suggest as Hotspot” button when you name the location. This option is only available on the web version of eBird, not on the app.
Submitting one or more eBird checklists every time you bird on public lands is not only rewarding, it also provides essential data for the conservation and management of our public lands.