Welcome to the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Balancing Resource Use and Conservation

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Wildlife

      Information Article

Joe Kahl, Reclamation Wildlife Technician, surveys for nesting birds in cottonwood-willow and mesquite habitats at Planet Ranch along the Bill Williams River in Arizona.An adult yellow-billed cuckoo monitored at Palo Verde Ecological Reserve near Blythe, California. Some birds, like this one, are briefly captured and marked with leg bands. Leg bands help us identify them in order to determine how many of the birds of that species use the area and whether they return each year.
  Joe Kahl, Reclamation Wildlife Technician, surveys for nesting birds in cottonwood-willow and mesquite habitats at Planet Ranch along the Bill Williams River in Arizona.
Photo by Reclamation.
  An adult yellow-billed cuckoo monitored at Palo Verde Ecological Reserve near Blythe, California. Some birds, like this one, are briefly captured and marked with leg bands. Leg bands help us identify them in order to determine how many of the birds of that species use the area and whether they return each year.
Photo by Reclamation.
 


Here Comes the Summer Heat and Bird Nesting Season Along the Colorado River

Each spring and summer, the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP) monitors breeding birds at conservation areas and other important habitat patches within the Colorado River watershed.

The LCR MSCP is creating habitat for 12 listed and sensitive bird species. We look to see if, and when, those species move into habitat we plant. We also look for other bird species that may nest in similar habitat. If they show up, it may mean that our 12 target species could nest there too. The LCR MSCP is creating habitat to replace cottonwood-willow and mesquite woodlands, marsh, and backwaters that may be impacted by water diversion and power generation along the lower Colorado River in Arizona, California and Nevada. When the birds choose to nest in our restoration sites we know the habitat we planted is meeting their needs. This is an indicator of success.

We begin monitoring birds in spring when they start pairing up and building nests. Some species, like the gilded flicker, begin setting up territories as early as February. Others, like southwestern willow flycatchers and yellow-billed cuckoos, arrive in May and June. Surveys continue through the summer until the young can fly and leave the nest. Many of the species then travel south to spend the winter months outside the U.S.

We use a variety of techniques to monitor birds, including walking or boating quietly through the habitat to listen for their calls and look for them building nests or searching for food. For the more secretive birds, we have permits that allow us to play their calls out loud in the hopes they will call back. The permits allow us to use mist nets at a few select locations to capture birds and check their health to determine if they are breeding. It takes multiple visits to each site to determine if the birds are there, if they nested, and if their young fledged (survived to successfully leave the nest).

Updated June 19, 2018