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For the past several years, we have organized the annual breeding surveys for rosy-finches in the Snowy Range and nightjar surveys in the Laramie region. We have also helped support the Wyoming Birding Bonanza. Here is a summary of the results.

Nightjar surveys

We conduct nightjar surveys as part of the Nightjar Survey Network. Nightjars, or goatsuckers, are the most enigmatic group of birds in North America. Very little is known about the basic aspects of their biology, habitat use, and population status due to their cryptically nocturnal lifestyle. In recent years, conservationists andthe general public have come to share a general sense that populations of Nightjars are dramatically declining. However, there were no standardized data available to help describe these changes or to help with reversing population losses. This survey program was created to gain a better understanding on population status by implementing a standardized approach across the nation that will help determine the magnitude and scale of population changes so a course for conservation may be plotted. The Nightjar Survey Network relies entirely on volunteer participation. NS means that a site was not surveyed in that year.

Common Nighthawk:

Route Name 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Buford 0 3 0 0 1 2
Fox Park 0 0 9 3 2 0
Harmony 1 14 0 NS 16 12
Rock River 16 12 8 9 12 9
Sybille Canyon 1 9 12 4 5 5
Total 18 38 29 16 36 28

Common Poorwill:

Route Name 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Buford 2 5 7 1 8 5
Fox Park 0 2 0 1 0 0
Harmony 0 3 0 NS 0 0
Rock River 9 1 0 5 9 5
Sybille Canyon 8 10 18 20 7 22
Total 19 21 25 27 24 32

Rosy-finch Surveys

In 2003, Audubon Wyoming (now Audubon Rockies) designated a site within the Snowy Range as an Important Bird Area because the alpine habitat supports Wyoming’s only breeding population of the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. This rosy-finch is a species of concern because it has a very limited global range, breeding only in the Snowies and on mountain peaks in Colorado and northern New Mexico. If the current global warming trend continues, its mountain habitat islands are likely to shrink and to be invaded by other avian species that are currently excluded by the harsh conditions. These changes would threaten the future of the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, especially in places at the edge of its range like the Snowies. Documenting how many Brown-capped Rosy-Finches are in the area and where they are feeding and nesting can help us monitor their populations and determine how the birds are faring. Audubon Rockies and the Laramie Audubon Society have been long-time contributors to this effort. To learn more about the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, read the species account from the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database.

Brown-capped Rosy-finch:

Route Name 2010 2011 2012 2013
Trails 1&2 8 1 2 0
Trail 3 0 1 0 3
Trail 4 3 4 10 1
Other 1 0 0 0

*A single Black Rosy-finch was also observed on trails 1 & 2 in 2010.

Wyoming Birding Bonanza

The second Wyoming Birding Bonanza was held in May 2013. This year's event was a great success! Some summary stats are listed below. A big thank you to our sponsors who make the t-shirts and prizes possible: UW Museum of Vertebrates, UW Biodiversity Institute, Cheyenne High Plains Audubon Society, Laramie Audubon Society, Murie Audubon Society, and eBird.
  • 131 birders submitted 1369 checklists during May! That's more checklists than last April, May, and June combined!
  • There were 267 species seen. The most species seen were in Laramie County (193), followed by Fremont (176), Teton (174), Albany (169), then Natrona (147).
  • The most checklists were also submitted from Laramie County (446), followed by Albany (186), Fremont (176), Teton (145), then Park (131).
  • The fewest checklists were submitted from Niobrara (0), followed by Sheridan (2), Weston (2), Converse (4), Hot Springs (4), and Washakie (4).
  • 33 birders submitted at least the minimum 15 checklist requirement for a t-shirt.
Thanks everybody for another great Bonanza this year!