Rural Missouri - January 2014 - (Page 17)
Above: Nic Salick, one of the part-time researchers for the Missouri River Bird Observatory, laughs as a tufted titmouse bites his ﬁnger after it was caught in a net outside a
home in Washington, Mo. The bird was banded and used to research habits of backyard birds. Below: Nic gives Russ and Zack Frey a lesson in bird identiﬁcation. The Freys let
the observatory trap and band birds at their home. The bands help them identify individual birds as they return to the feeder.
Missouri Valley College. "A little class
exercise turned into something much
bigger," says Dana. "We started getting
to know people with the Department of
Conservation. We thought, there's not
a bird observatory here. There isn't any
non-governmental organization doing
conservation research and monitoring
birds on a scientiﬁc basis. So let's start
one. So we did."
The location, within the ﬂyway used
by migratory birds, proved a good one.
But soon their research spread far aﬁeld
as conservation groups around the state
discovered a world-class team of bird
researchers had set up shop in Missouri.
"For a state agency to accomplish all
of the things we need to do, we need
partners," says Brad Jacobs, a wildlife
ecologist and ornithologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "We
have cooperative agreements with them
to do bird monitoring and things like
that. They are what we have needed in Missouri for
a long time."
One of the projects the Missouri River Bird Observatory joined is a massive study of grassland birds.
The work took them across more than 44,000 acres
of grassland in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.
"I spent a good part of the summer camping in
my car," says Nic, adding that he drove 15,000 miles
from May to December monitoring birds.
Another project studied the migration of tiny
saw-whet owls, which travel from Canada on a slow
trip to their wintering grounds in dense forests in
Missouri and elsewhere.
"We were pretty green at this when we started,"
admits Dana. "One analogy is our eyes were bigger
than our stomachs."
Besides doing extensive ﬁeld research around the
state, the team also devotes a good part of their waking hours to educating the public on the beneﬁts of
birds and conservation in general. The observatory's
Backyard Banding project is one such effort.
"This started as a home-school project for us,"
says Ginny, who was looking for more science information for her son, Zack. "We always had bird feeders, but we didn't know anything about birds. I love
that Dana and her bird observatory come out and do
this in backyards."
This "citizen science" is infectious, Ethan says.
"We hope for the ripple effect. The Freys
go and talk to someone else and conservation beneﬁts. They answer questions
for us. Will the birds prefer this side
of the house? Will they come by more
often if I do this?"
Dana can trace her interest in birds to
a class she took where she learned about
the demise of the ivory-billed woodpecker, a species that is now thought to be
extinct but could have been saved.
She served on a team that searched
a wilderness area in Arkansas after a
reported sighting of the bird brought
hope that it may have survived after all.
Sadly, no evidence was ever found.
Dana's take from the futile search? "I
really need to do everything I can with
my life to make sure this never happens again," she says. "That was a major
extinction people could have stopped."
To that end, Dana and Ethan established the Missouri River Bird Observatory to help increase the knowledge of birds, which
will help other researchers such as MDC's Brad
Jacobs better advise land managers. "It's a neverending science," Ethan says. "The more information
we get, the more we can reﬁne the science."
Adds Dana, "Birds are a great way to get people to
care. Because they are beautiful, pleasant and enjoyable. So hopefully they act as a gateway to other
You can learn more about the Missouri River Bird Observatory at www.mrbo.org or by calling 660-886-8788.
The website includes information on events and ways to
help in its efforts.
Rural Missouri - January 2014
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2014
Rural Missouri - January 2014
Healing on horses
Out of the Way Eats
For the birds
Hearth and Home
The company behind the meter
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Rural Missouri - January 2014
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Comments
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Columns
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Healing on horses
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 9
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 10
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 11
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Gut instinct
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 13
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Out of the Way Eats
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 15
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - For the birds
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 17
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 18
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Missouri Snapshots
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 20
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 21
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 22
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 23
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 25
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 26
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 27
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - The company behind the meter
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 29
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Around Missouri
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 31
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 32
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 33
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Marketplace
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 35
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Neighbors
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 37
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover4