In mid-January new rules regulating oil and gas development in Colorado increased protection of 12.7 million acres of wildlife habitat across the state.
Go to Rocky Mountain Wild's story map and zoom in to Wild Connections region to see how this plays out here. When you turn the "old rules" and "new rules" on and off, you will be struck by the increase in protections for both the Arkansas and S. Platte tributaries and mainstems.
Rosy-Finch Census in South Park
Rosy-Finch census 2021
Misi and Bob Ballard's feeders in South Park routinely attract hundreds of Rosy-Finches during the winter. Captured birds' physiological data and previous and new banding data is collected and birds are then released. 2021's big innovation is the installation of a MOTUS antenna and fitting 10 birds with Motus FM transmitter tags. This will reveal more details on the bird's movements.
Brown-Capped Rosy-Finches' breeding range is almost entirely in Colorado, and their numbers have declined 95% over the past 50 years. The data collected will help researchers understand this alarming decline and relationships among populations of the three Rosy-Finch species (Gray-crowned, Black and Brown-capped.)
Biologist Greg Levandowski leads the project for theBird Conservancy of the Rockies. In January, 221 Brown-Capped Rosy-Finches were captured at Ballards. 13 of these were recaptures from previous years. Ten Bown-capped were fitted with MOTUS FM tags. Greg notes "The species composition of banded birds to date in 2021 has been dominated by BCRF (89%), more so than in any other year, eclipsing the previous high of 73% in 2019". Read the initial report here.
Many thanks to the Ballards, who are long-time Wild Connections members, for making this warm cabin and hundreds of birds available to the biolgists and volunteers.
Click on any photo to enlarge it.
Lots of Rosy-Finches - January 2020
Rosy-Finches flock to the feeders on the Ballard's deck and into the wire trap. Greg Levandoski and Joel Such examine each bird and record previous band number and physical data. Volunteers Kathy McClintock, Laurel George, Donna Weeks and Tiffany Trunnel get a first hand education about the birds before they are released. They will fly off to the near by pine trees and then return again and again until they are well-fulled for the cold temperatures.
The hospitality team of John and Carol Stansfield and Bob Ballard kept everyone happy with a warm cabin and plentiful food and hot drinks. This Rosy-Finch event kicked off a series of special events to celebrate Wild Connections 25th Anniversary.
Greg Levandoski is with Regalis Environmental LLC working in partnership with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and UC/Santa Cruz. Joel Such assisted.
Thanks to John for the photos. Click on an image to enlarge and see the caption.
Wild Connections' mission is to identify, protect, and restore wildlands, native species, and biological diversity in the Arkansas and South Platte watersheds. They are the ancestral lands of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other indigenous peoples.