A Ricketts Conservation Foundation project, this study will help to understand basic ecology of songbird populations in multiple habitats of northwestern Wyoming. To meet this overall goal, we will collect data on various aspects of health, behavior, and life history of songbird populations in the upper Hoback River Valley through capture, marking, tissue sampling, and monitoring. Emphasis is on cavity-nesting species (e.g., Mountain Bluebird and Tree Swallow) and breeding songbirds in sagebrush (e.g., Brewer’s Sparrow and Green-tailed Towhee), aspen (e.g., Lazuli Bunting and Western Tanager), willow riparian areas (e.g., White-crowned Sparrow and Willow Flycatcher), and spruce-fir (e.g., Mountain Chickadee).
Establish a nest box trail to attract cavity-nesting birds, including the primary target species (Mountain Bluebirds) and secondary target species (Violet-green Swallow, Tree Swallow, and House Wren). Nest boxes will be monitored to assess occupancy and breeding success, individuals will be captured and banded, blood samples will be collected for physiological and genetic analyses, and nest box cameras and radio transmitters will be utilized to investigate reproductive strategies. Data collected will enable insight into colonization dynamics and life history investment of Mountain Bluebirds in a population where they do not have to compete with Western Bluebirds (which are not yet established in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem).
Establish a long-term program in the upper Hoback River Valley to monitor breeding and potentially migratory songbird populations in four major habitat types: sagebrush, aspen, willow riparian areas, and spruce-fir forest. Songbird territory mapping and reproductive success will be assessed, individuals will be captured and banded, and blood samples will be collected for contaminant and foodweb analysis. Data collected will enable insight into use of various habitat types, importance of high quality ecosystems, and how best to manage habitats in a manner that will assist federal and state wildlife agencies.
In the summer 2014, more than 150 individuals, representing over 30 species of songbirds were captured, banded and sampled in the upper Hoback River Valley in all four representative habitat types. Mountain Bluebirds were color-banded for future monitoring purposes.
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