Did You Know?

In the first half of the 20th century, the bird species richness of the Truckee River declined by 40% due to environmental impacts. With major habitat restoration ongoing, birds have recovered to almost 90% of the original species richness.

Birds of the Truckee River have been monitored for a long time - really since 1868, when Robert Ridgway and the young age of 16 years visited the Big Bend area as part of the Clarence King expedition (see also Publications and Presentations). As the expedition's ornithologist, he identified over 120 species in just three weeks of riding along the shores of the Truckee River. Since then, much has changed in the river landscape due to expanding urban areas and agricultural activities. GBBO has monitored riparian birds of the Truckee River almost every year since 1998, and has documented the recovery of many species after mid-20th century losses. This recovery is mostly due to massive habitat restoration efforts, most notably the recovery of instream flows that benefit the ecological systems associated with the floodplain and, of course, the major river channel and wetland restoration projects that have occurred since then. One example of a successful riparian restoration project in The Nature Conservancy's McCarran Ranch Preserve, for which GBBO created a seasonal bird checklist based on 10 years of bird monitoring conducted as part of the restoration project.

Blackpoll Warbler / Photo: Ken Voget

Blackpoll Warbler / Photo: Ken Voget

We have also conducted migration bird banding on McCarran Ranch for the past 10 years, which has revealed that the Truckee River is a significant migration stopover site not only for riparian landbirds, but also upland species such as the Gray Flycatcher, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Audubon’s Warbler. The banding station also documented regional rarities, such as this Blackpoll Warbler captured and photographed by our bander Ken Voget in September 2015.

The Truckee River bird monitoring project has been funded by The Nature Conservancy of Nevada for 17 years now, and it is thereby the longest landbird monitoring project that GBBO has conducted so far. It spans the entire lower Truckee River from Lockwood to the Pyramid Lake delta. We have enjoyed long and very productive partnerships in this project, ranging from our funding partner to Tribes, federal and state agencies, and local agencies, which exemplifies the value of working together on a shared mission for a precious resource.

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