Our Mission

The Mission of the Great Basin Bird Observatory is to conserve birds and their habitats in the Great Basin and adjoining regions.

 

Pinyon Jay / Photo: John Boone

Pinyon Jay / Photo: John Boone

To implement our mission, we use a strictly science-based, non-partisan, and non-confrontational approach to further the effectiveness of bird conservation measures. We also value integrity and respect for others, and we use solution-oriented business practices to maintain partnerships with a large variety of entities, including government agencies, Tribes, other non-profit organizations, the private sector.

Great Basin Bird Observatory (GBBO) was registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in January 1997 as an independent non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and understanding of bird populations in the Great Basin and adjoining regions. GBBO considers its role to be a catalyst for bringing together partners in bird monitoring, inventory, and bird habitat conservation planning, as well as for helping advance the skills of citizen scientists in bird conservation and knowledge of the interested public about birds of Nevada.


Our Strategy

GBBO’s strategic plan of 2014 identifies four major programs of the organization:

Monitoring - Taking the Vitals of Populations

Conservation Assistance - Making the Data Matter

Research - Looking for Connections

Education and Outreach - Sharing the Knowledge


Monitoring - Taking the Vitals of Populations

Photo: Amy Leist

Photo: Amy Leist

From the beginning days of GBBO, inventory and monitoring of bird populations has been the flagship program of our work. By completing the first Nevada Breeding Bird Atlas, published by the University of Nevada Press in 2007, GBBO emerged as a leading entity in bird conservation science in Nevada. In 2002, GBBO developed a comprehensive Nevada landbird monitoring program, the Nevada Bird Count, and has implemented it since. The Nevada Bird Count is a nested program that integrates surveillance monitoring (to determine statewide population status and trends) with effectiveness monitoring of conservation projects. The Nevada Bird Count data are currently the richest source of landbird conservation data available for the state.

In addition, GBBO is involved in a myriad of other population inventory and monitoring projects, ranging from special species monitoring (Golden Eagle, Greater Sage-Grouse, Snowy Plover, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and others) to participation in other major multi-species monitoring programs (e.g., Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program), and expanding monitoring efforts toward collecting comprehensive habitat assessments that allow for species-habitat modeling. These additions to our bird monitoring feed back critical data to the other programs of GBBO, Conservation Assistance and Research. Our strategic plan identifies three major goals of the Monitoring Program of our organization:

Photo: Amy Leist

Photo: Amy Leist

Monitoring Goal 1: Maintain sufficient statewide bird monitoring efforts in Nevada to determine which species are declining according to the Nevada Bird Count’s stated monitoring goals and to set the stage for scientifically derived conservation action.

Monitoring Goal 2: Assist in project-specific bird monitoring using science-based effectiveness/impacts criteria.

Monitoring Goal 3: Increase networking efforts with regional coordinated bird monitoring databases and bird conservation initiatives to make monitoring data more widely available.

At the time of fall 2015, GBBO is involved in the following inventory and monitoring projects (funding entity in parentheses):

  • Evaluation and redesign of NBC statewide effort (SNWA, in collaboration with Jon Bart)
  • Sagebrush-blackbrush inventory and monitoring (NDOW)
  • Walker River bird monitoring (FWS)
  • Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility impact monitoring (BLM)
  • Truckee River bird monitoring (TNC)
  • Warm Springs Natural Area bird monitoring (SNWA)
  • Las Vegas Wash bird and habitat monitoring (SNWA)
  • Pine Nut Range bird monitoring of Buffalo fire (NFWF, BLM, NDOW)
  • Corn Creek and Pahranagat NWR bird monitoring for restoration (FWS)
  • Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (USBR): System-wide bird and habitat monitoring (Lake Mead to Mexican border)
  • Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (USBR): Habitat conservation area bird monitoring
  • Western terminal lakes piscivorous species monitoring (FWS)
  • Continuation of statewide inventory and monitoring of Golden Eagle nests (NDOW, BLM

Conservation Assistance - Making the Data Matter

Photo: Amy Leist

Photo: Amy Leist

The fact that GBBO has been a leader in regional monitoring, inventory and conservation research puts the organization in a unique position for providing conservation assistance with the goal of making our partners in conservation as effective as possible in their on-the-ground actions.

One of the most sought-after products in our partners’ efforts to be more effective is habitat modeling. Habitat modeling, in short, describes quantitatively the unique set of environmental conditions under which a bird is able to thrive. For instance, some cavity-nesting birds require a minimum number of dead trees (snags) with a certain trunk diameter in order to breed successfully. Other birds need certain densities and age classes of particular trees or shrubs. Yet, other birds require a landscape setting that is at a minimum distance from disturbed areas, or that is near water or cliffs. Our habitat models are designed to provide this information in great detail.

GBBO’s strategic plan identifies one major goal for the Conservation Assistance Program of our organization:

Conservation Assistance Goal: Maintain and expand trusted and active relationships with all stakeholders who share a mission for bird/wildlife conservation planning in GBBO’s region of influence.

 

GBBO has completed the following list of conservation assistance products or is working on these at the time of fall 2015 (funding entity in parentheses):

Anna's Hummingbird / Photo: Amy Leist

Anna's Hummingbird / Photo: Amy Leist

  • Nevada Comprehensive Bird Conservation Plan (NV State Lands, NDOW)
  • Determination of best species impact avoidance guidelines in the Great Basin based on science (Great Basin LCC)
  • Scientific evaluation of all disturbance buffer guidelines on birds in the Great Basin (BLM)
  • Evaluate disturbance effects at various distances from linear disturbances in sagebrush and blackbrush (NDOW)
  • All NBC data, Atlas data, and predictive maps based on 15 years of bird surveys in Clark County shared with Clark County stakeholders in March 2014 and March 2015 (Clark County Desert Conservation Program)
  • Arizona species and habitat accounts project for key conservation criteria a la Nevada Comprehensive Bird Conservation Plan template (AGFD)
  • Walker River decision support tool - DST (FWS, UNR)
  • Ongoing consultation on Lower Colorado River conservation threshold values for MSCP covered species (USBR)
  • Ongoing consultation on Truckee River restoration planning (TNC)
  • Ongoing consultation on Desatoya Range and other BLM sagebrush-pinyon juniper treatment areas for optimized conservation outcome for all sensitive species (BLM)
  • Ongoing consultation on MBTA (Migratory Bird Treaty Act) clearance survey protocols to the BLM
  • Ongoing consultation on all bird survey and clearance protocols in the agencies

Research - Looking for Connections

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher / Photo: Amy Leist

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher / Photo: Amy Leist

Research has played a role in GBBO’s operations in the form of applied research that addresses critical unanswered questions about particular priority species, habitats, or analysis questions. The research done by GBBO is designed to directly assist in successful conservation planning, monitoring, and evaluation. In this program, we delve deeper into the biology of species or into innovative ways of analyzing existing data in order to continually improve our understanding of the ecological requirements of birds, which leads to better conservation, and to make the most of our large data sets through spatial and statistical analyses. For instance, GBBO has used radiotelemetry to research aspects of habitat requirements and landscape needs of Pinyon Jay, Elf Owl, Golden Eagle, and Greater Sage-Grouse, because this basic information was still understudied in our regions. Some results of these efforts can be found on our Publications page, and many new outputs from this work are forthcoming.

The GBBO strategic plan identifies two major goals for the Research Program of our organization:

Research Goal 1: Pursue active involvement in priority-species and bird-habitat research in our region.

Research Goal 2: Increase recognition of GBBO’s role in conservation research by peers and the public.

At the time of fall of 2015, GBBO has completed or is still conducting the following research projects (funding entity in parentheses):

  • Golden Eagle nest research and prey population assessment (NDOW, BLM)
  • Elf Owl detectability research in Arizona (USBR)
  • Waterbird inventory and trend analyses in western terminal lakes (FWS)
  • Pinyon Jay radiotelemetry analysis to determine habitat and home range use (BLM, NDOW, USFS)
  • Predictive population models for species under consideration for Clark County MSHCP permit coverage (Clark County Desert Conservation Program)
  • Predictive maps of landbird distributions and densities based on NBC data (BLM)
  • Habitat modeling for select landbird priority species (various partners)
  • Population monitoring designs for feral cat and dog populations for population control (HSUS, HSI)

Education and Outreach - Sharing the Knowledge

Photo: Amy Leist

Photo: Amy Leist

GBBO has an ongoing interest in fostering citizen science and sharing insights from conservation science that is done at GBBO and elsewhere. Education is part of GBBO’s mission, and in recent years, it has been mostly conducted through the GBBO website and through social media (Field Notes Blog, Facebook, and Twitter).

For instance, the popular Birdsong Learning Program available on this website allows novices and advanced birders to test and improve their skills in recognizing bird songs in different habitat types of Nevada. Occasional public education events, such as citizen-scientist workshops, point count and area survey training, participation in birding and ornithological conferences, birding trip leadership, and public events such as birding festivals, are pursued based on availability of opportunities and staff time.

 

The GBBO strategic plan identifies two major goals for the Public Education Program of our organization:

Education and Outreach Goal 1: Provide professional science education to stakeholders and the interested public.

Education and Outreach Goal 2: Explore options for diversifying the education program using other strategies besides online methods.

 

At the time of fall of 2015, GBBO is involved in the following ways to conduct Education and Outreach:

Photo: Amy Leist

Photo: Amy Leist

  • Field Notes Blog which shows pictures and “a day in the life of field ornithologists” type entries (created by Jen Ballard, GBBO).
  • Active Facebook and Twitter accounts that have at least two postings per month
  • Birdsong Learning Program, which uses a digital flashcard system to train the user in common birdsongs of Nevada (created by Dana Hartley, GBBO)
  • Outreach to Tribal communities to include them in our world through field trips, participation in surveyor training and insights from our bird monitoring efforts
  • The Nevada Comprehensive Bird Conservation Plan, which is available for download by the public
  • Worksheet for implementing the Nevada Comprehensive Bird Conservation Plan on habitat implementation project planning and adaptive management
  • Participation of workshop and creation of a learning module for the National Conservation Educators and Practitioners’ website , which offers free class syllabi on conservation science project, using the Lower Colorado River riparian bird project as a case study (expected to be completed by the end of 2015)
  • Various online resources available to the public, such as field protocols, spreadsheets, checklists