The Endangered Species Act is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws. Since its passage in 1973, the Act has enabled the recovery of several at-risk species including the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, humpback whale, Virginia flying squirrel, and the Oregon chub, among others.
Endangered Species Act
When I wrote about the Greater Sage-Grouse in the November issue of The Quail, I mentioned that a final decision on protection of the bird would come in 2014. The Bureau of Land Management has just released its draft plan and is receiving comments until February 20. As expected, the draft plan is not as strong as it should be in protecting the grouse.
At one time, the Northern Spotted Owl was found in old-growth forests throughout the Pacific Northwest. Heavy logging and other developments over the last 190 years have reduced spotted owl habitat by 60%. As a result, owl numbers have declined by 40%–60% in the last 10 years, leaving an estimated 2,000 pairs in existence today.
It’s 6:00 a.m. and still dark when we arrive at the Millican lek, just east of Bend. Even in the predawn darkness of this early May morning, we can hear the “thump-gurgle, thump-gurgle” of the male Greater Sage-Grouse as they try to impress the females. The elaborate courtship display goes on for an hour and a half until the birds finally settle down in the full light of day, and it will continue every morning for another month as the sage-grouse work out their relationships.
This fascinating ritual is becoming increasingly rare in Oregon and across the West as development, livestock grazing, wildfire, and other environmental impacts reduce sage-grouse habitat.
Dave Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Horned Lark is one of the most widespread bird species in North America. So how did it become a candidate for the endangered species list? The Horned Lark comprises 21 subspecies, including three or four that breed in Oregon. One subspecies, the Streaked Horned Lark, is found only in the southern Willamette Valley (where 900–1,300 individuals breed) and in isolated sites in Washington State and on the lower Columbia River. Its historical range extends from southern British Columbia through the Umpqua and Rogue River Valleys.
Photo: Cary Kerst
Article: Dave Stone
Want to see a Marbled Murrelet? Here’s how:
Head for the Oregon coast.
Find a clearing in the old-growth forest, 10-35 miles from the ocean.
Show up an hour before dawn.
Look up 50-200 feet in the air.
Listen for its distinctive, high-pitched “keer keer keer” call.
Watch very carefully for a chunky, robin-sized bird moving fast toward the ocean.
That’s it! Did you see it?
If you did, count yourself lucky. This bird’s no dummy. Because crows, ravens, and even Steller’s Jays prey on the bird, the eggs, and the chicks, the Marbled Murrelet likes to keep a low profile. Also, there aren’t a lot of them left in Oregon.
When Europeans first set foot in North America, it is estimated that there were 500,000 Bald Eagles on the continent. Their nests lined the rivers, circled large lakes, and occupied our coastal areas.