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Friday, September 29, 2023

Weminuche Audubon Society to hear about technology used in Mexican Spotted Owl Project

By Jean Zirnhelt | Weminuche Audubon Society

One of the promises of the Endangered Species Act is the protection of habitat considered critical for the survival of species whose declining numbers threaten their existence. One of these species is the Mexican spotted owl, whose numbers are limited by suitable nesting habitat and whose historic range is shrinking as a result of disturbances including timber removal practices, wildfire, and oil and gas development.

Suitable habitat and past detections suggest that these birds could be breeding in remote terrain of the nearby HD Mountains, but are the birds there? Can you find a bird who hunts at dusk and at night, roosts during the day and is most vocal during breeding season when snowfall limits access?

Forming a partnership with the San Juan Citizens Alliance and members of the Fort Lewis College Seeds ecology club, members of Weminuche Audubon set out to answer this question late last winter. Thanks to a grant from Denver Audubon and donations, Weminuche Audubon was able to purchase autonomous recording units (ARUs), a relatively new technology used to record the unique calls of birds.

At the September Weminuche Audubon meeting, chapter member Kurt Huffman will explain how the ARUs were used in our Mexican Spotted Owl Project, how the data captured by ARUs is analyzed and the exciting possibilities for future use.

We will begin the meeting with a presentation by Peyton Jackson, a Pagosa Springs High School student who was awarded a scholarship from our chapter to attend American Birding Association’s Camp Colorado in July. This scholarship is made possible by the generous support of Joan Ward in honor of her late husband, Michael Ward.

Jackson has participated with our chapter in Christmas Bird Counts and recently constructed and donated more than 100 nest boxes, distributed in our area as a part of his Eagle Scout Project. We are excited to find out what he learned at the camp.

We will meet at the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Please join us for social time at 6 p.m. prior to our 6:30 meeting. 

In appreciation for our meeting space, please bring a donation of nonperishable food for the church food bank. 

For those unable to join in person, a link to join on Zoom will be posted on our website, weminucheaudubon.org, prior to the meeting. The public is welcome to attend our meetings and events.

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