5th International
Partners in Flight Conference and Conservation Workshop

Advancing Bird Conservation Across the Americas
August 25 – August 28, 2013
Snowbird, Utah
Special Sessions
Tuesday, August 27 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Haga clic aquí para descargar la versión en español de las Sesiones de Topicos Especiales.
  1. International Agreements and Bird Conservation in the 21st Century: Assessing the Effectiveness and Exploring Opportunities
  2. Conservation Measures to Address Anthropogenic Causes of Bird Mortality
  3. Bird Conservation on Private Lands and Community-based Conservation Initiatives
  4. A Western Hemisphere Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for all Birds
  5. A Full Life-Cycle of Monitoring: Objectives, Data Collection, and Supporting Conservation Decision-Making
  6. Full Life Cycle Population Modeling for Migratory Birds
  7. Migration Stopover and Bottlenecks for Long-distance Migrants within the Western Hemisphere
  8. A New Canada Warbler Conservation Partnership
  9. Understanding & Overcoming the Social Challenges of Bird Conservation
There has been a long history of establishing agreements among countries to promote environmental protection. International agreements may focus solely on bird conservation, such as the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. Most treaties have broad mandates and include measures to expand protection of birds, including the Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This session will review effectiveness of international agreements for delivering bird conservation, and discuss ideas for improvement in the 21st century.

Session Lead: Benjamin Skolnik, American Bird Conservancy,
Panelists: Taej Mundkur and Cristina Morales – Convention on Migratory Species (CMS); Deb Hahn - Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR) & Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Anne Law - Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP); Benjamin Skolnik – Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Many human-related activities are lethal to individual birds and may affect entire populations. Many of these activities are common across the Americas. Examples include power lines, wind energy development, construction and maintenance of communication towers, design of tall buildings, and policies regarding feral cats. Fortunately, industry and government agencies in many countries have developed practices and policies that support practices to prevent the bird losses. In this session we will share information on the state of our knowledge regarding these conservation measures, so that prevention and reduction of bird mortality may be coordinated across the Americas. Although this session will focus on solutions, we will also review the most current knowledge on population-level threats to birds.

Session Lead: Geoffrey Walsh, US Bureau of Land Management,

Introduction of Session: Geoffrey Walsh, U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Becky Whittam, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Overview and Comparison of Mortality Causes
Scott Loss Smithsonian Institute, United States; Christine Bishop, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Power Line Interactions
Sherri Liquori, Avian Powerline Interaction Committee; Mike Green, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Collisions: Windows and Buildings
Christine Sheppard, American Bird Conservancy
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Communications Towers
Joelle Gehring, Federal Communication Commission, United States
3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Wind Energy
Mike Green FWS US/Taber Allison and Jerry Roppe (Iberdrola)
4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Toxins & Contaminants
Cynthia Palmer, American Bird Conservancy
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Cat Predation
Grant Sizemore, American Bird Conservancy
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Discussion and Assignment of Solution
Geoffrey Walsh, U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Becky Whittam, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada

The success of bird conservation depends greatly on efforts outside of parks, protected areas, and other publicly managed lands. In this session, we will explore successful models for community-based and private-lands conservation in different countries, from large-scale incentive funding and partnership programs under the USDA Farm Bill to regional and local community action initiatives that provide economic sustainability for bird-friendly agricultural ad forestry practices. What are the challenges and roadblocks to successful private lands conservation? How can successful models be shared across regions, countries, and cultures? How can efforts be aligned with bird conservation priorities and objectives?

Session Lead: Seth Gallagher, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory,

Welcome and Introduction: Seth Gallagher, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. The Sage Grouse Initiative: A Model for Strategic Landbird Conservation in the Future
Dave Smith, Intermountain West Joint Venture
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Meeting Golden-winged Warbler Breeding Habitat Goals: Successful Outreach and Implementation on Private Lands in Pennsylvania
Dr. Jeffery Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Mike Pruss, Emily Bellush, Mark Roberts, Phil Seng, and Barry Isaacs
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Private Land Strategies for Restoring Open Woodland Habitat in the Central Hardwood Bird Conservation Region
Larry Heggemann, Central Hardwoods Joint Venture
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Point Blue’s Rangeland Watershed Initiative: Improving Land Stewardship Through Monitoring
Ryan DiGaudio, Geoff Geupel and Wendell Gilgert, Point Blue Conservation Science
3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Private Lands Stewardship Efforts in the Western U.S. and Northern Mexico
Seth Gallagher, Arvind Panjabi and Greg Levandoski, RMBO
4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. OPJV Grassland Restoration Incentive Program (GRIP)
Jon Hayes and Jim Giocomo, Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Utah and the West
Karl Flemming, USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Cattle, Culture and Conservation in the Southern Cone Grasslands
Rob Clay, BirdLife International
5:30 p.m. Discussion and Networking

Since 1992, the Partners in Flight Species Assessment Database ( has been a fundamental tool for landbird conservation planning. Using the Species Assessment Process, experts score the future vulnerability of a given species on six factors, as explained in detail in the Handbook on the website. In June 2013, the database was updated to include all 882 species of landbirds of the US, Canada, and Mexico that were treated in Saving Our Shared Birds: Partners in Flight Vision for Tri-National Landbird Conservation (Berlanga et al. 2010).

The vulnerability score is intended to inform about conservation priorities, and not to define a time frame or probability envelope within which extirpation may happen. The database allows a user to rank species of interest from more to less vulnerable, and thus provides a foundation for conservation design and priority setting. This information has been central to large-scale, multi-species analyses, such as that developed in State Wildlife Action Plans, the USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern, State of the Birds reports, Watch Lists developed by the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy, Joint Venture implementation plans, and many others.

Notably, this Species Assessment Process has not explicitly considered vulnerability as a result of climate change. That is, drivers of population numbers are assumed to remain unchanged into the future, unless management actions are implemented to curb them. The Threats to Breeding and Threats to Non-breeding scores may, in some cases, include climate change considerations, but those have never been explicitly based on future projections of climates and populations.

The objective of this session is to come to agreement on a practical process for assigning one or more scores to each species that capture the species’ vulnerability to climate change and that can be applied over the next 6-12 months. To give just three examples of possible outcomes: 1.) Simply adding an attribute of either “more” or “less” vulnerable to each species. 2.) It may follow the Species Assessment Process precedent of assigning a score from 1 (least vulnerable) to 5 to each species. 3.) Or perhaps we can assign a score of 1 to 5 for the breeding season and 1 to 5 for the non-breeding season to each species, as we have done for threats to date. The process must be informed and consider the available knowledge, or lack thereof, on each species’ vulnerability to climate change.

Anyone familiar with the literature on this subject knows that vulnerability assessments have been done in a large variety of ways. We would like to explore the different possible approaches, and particularly to examine the degree to which we can separate future effects on habitat and elevational distributions as distinct from a given species innate ability to respond to those effects. The former are heavily dependent on climate change projections and modeling, while the latter relies on species’ attributes such as clutch size, longevity, and ability to disperse.

To reiterate, our objective is to come to agreement on a practical process that can be applied over the next 6-12 months, starting with the 882 species of landbirds that regularly breed in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. We have an immediate need to focus on defining a process. For example, the USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern list will be revised, probably within the next 6 months, and it would be desirable that the review considers vulnerability to climate change.

Agreeing on a simple assessment now does not preclude developing a more sophisticated process in the future. In fact, our discussions likely will develop suggestions for the future assessments and identify current information gaps that may guide modeling efforts for those assessments.

Session Leads: Terry Rich, PIF National Coordinator,; Leo Salas, PRBO Conservation Science,

1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Objectives of Session
Terrell D. Rich, Partners in Flight National Coordinator, USFWS
1:50 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. Perspectives from California Modeling and Assessment
Leo Salas, Quantitative Ecologist, Point Blue Conservation Science
2:10 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Climate Change Effects on Birds in the Tropics
Cagan H. Sekercioglu, Assistant Professor, University of Utah
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Discussion
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Discussion

  • Goal: Empower and motivate participants to develop a shared strategy for gathering and sharing information across the full life cycle to guide conservation actions and investments.
  • Outcome: Iguidance generated by this session into the conservation business plans to guide monitoring and informing bird conservation decisions across the full life cycle. Show what’s feasible at different scales for different objectives.
Session Leads: Katie Koch, Avian Knowledge Alliance, US Fish and Wildlife Service,; Viviana Ruiz-Guttierez, Colorado State University, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,; Brian Sullivan, eBird Project Leader, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,

1:30 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. Introductory Presentation
Geoff Geupel, Point Blue Conservation Science
1:50 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Objectives and Scales for Monitoring Across the Full Life Cycle
  • Recommendations for Successful Bird Conservation Through Improved Monitoring (NABCI document and Northeast Handbook)
    Troy Wilson, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Monitoring Objectives for Full Life Cycle Conservation
    John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory and C. John Ralph, US Forest Service
Discussion: Develop strategies for aligning partnerships around monitoring needs in Latin America.
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Techniques in Data Collection and Analysis
  • eBird
    Humberto Berlanga, CONABIO
  • From Counting Birds to Demographic Monitoring
    Viviana Ruiz Gutierrez, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Discussion: Set standards without being dogmatic about protocols; avoid protocol pitfalls so data are more useful. More broadly talk about what people want to look for.
3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Data Management and Delivery in Support of Conservation
  • eBird
    Brian Sullivna, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • The Avian Knowledge Network: Providing Partnerships and Technologies for Avian Monitoring and Conservation
    Katie Koch, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Discussion: Proper data collection and management are key to linking science with implementation and evaluating our bird conservation outcomes.
4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Developing a Strategy for Hemispheric Monitoring Across the Full Life Cycle
To tie this all back to the breakout sessions, we should feed directly into how people are going to measure the effectiveness of their conservation actions. We will show tools to help people determine appropriate metrics and how to build accountability into their plans

To date, the bird conservation community has typically used assumptions, estimates, professional judgment, and opportunities to decide where to invest in conservation action for most species. While all of these approaches have practical utility, there is a clear need to improve the scientific foundation upon which these decisions are made. A better understanding of whether demographic factors during the breeding, migratory, or wintering period -or interactions between portions of the life cycle - are limiting population growth will help us assess where the greatest impact on a species’ population dynamics occurs. This understanding, in turn, will help us to better target conservation actions across the species’ annual life cycle to the times and places where our actions will have the largest effect. As such, full life cycle population models can play important roles in informing which conservation actions and which geographies to focus on for effective conservation business planning and implementation.

In recognition of the inter-connection between full life cycle modeling and bird monitoring across the full life cycle to inform conservation decision making, the first 45 minutes of this session will be held jointly with participants from the Full Life Cycle Monitoring special session. The joint portion of the session will include overview presentations on the reasons and purposes for undertaking full life cycle modeling and monitoring, followed by a group discussion on how to coordinate modeling and monitoring efforts.

The population modeling session with then continue with presentations on (1) a summary of full life cycle modeling approaches useful for conservation and (2) an example of an effort currently underway to develop a life cycle model for a species with good demographic and migratory connectivity data across its annual cycle. The presentations will be followed by a structured discussion period designed to (1) recommend additional candidate species for which life cycle models would be particularly helpful in driving conservation decisions; (2) assess the greatest data needs for developing models for those additional species; and (3) determine how the conservation and research community might collaboratively go about collecting those required data.

Session Leads: Randy Dettmers and Tom Will, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.;; Pete Marra and Jeffrey Hostetler, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.;

1:30 p.m. – 1:55 p.m. Welcome and Introductory Presentations – Joint Session with Full Life Cycle Monitoring session participants
  • Monitoring Objectives for Full Life Cycle Conservation
    Geoff Geupel, Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Why Model Populations?
    Pete Marra and Jeff Hostetler, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1:55 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. Open Discussion: How Can Modeling and Monitoring Efforts Best Be Coordinated?
2:10 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Modeling and Monitoring Breakout Sessions
2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. What Modeling Approaches Are Available and For What Conservation Decision-making Purposes?
Jeff Hostetler, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Discussion of Modeling Approaches
3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. An Example of Full Life Cycle Modeling: Wood Thrush
3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Breakout Groups by Region or Target Species Group
  • What information is currently available for use in population modeling?
  • Where are the information gaps?
  • How can those gaps best be filled?
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Summaries, Discussion and Next Steps

As poorly known as the winter biology (and even distribution) is for many species, we know even less about migratory routes, concentration areas, and stopover sites that are critical to long distance migrants, especially south of the U.S. and Canada. Millions, or even billions, of birds, for example, pass through geographic bottlenecks such as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the Mexico and the Darién in Panama and Colombia—yet we know very little about the threats these birds are facing. This session will summarize recent knowledge of migrations within the Neotropics and will identify key threats and conservation strategies for these birds during a critical phase of their annual cycle. Results from this session will be incorporated into the Conservation Business Plans for the Geographical Focus Areas.

Session Leads: Rosa Ma. Vidal, Pronatura Sur, Chiapas, Mexico;; Nick Bayly, SELVA, Colombia;; Wendy Easton, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service;; Elisa Perezbarbosa, Pronatura Veracruz, Mexico;
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Recent Knowledge on the Location and Use of Migratory Bottlenecks and Stopover Sites Within the Neotropics
  • Anna Drake – Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  • Melinda Welton – Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, USA
  • Laurie Goodrich – Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, USA
  • Nicholas Bayly – SELVA: Research for Conservation in the Neotropics, Colombia
  • Camila Gómez – SELVA: Research for Conservation in the Neotropics & University of the Andes, Colombia
  • Elisa Perezbarbosa – ProNatura Veracruz, Mexico
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. – 3:35 p.m. Synopsis of presentations and questions
3:35 p.m. – 4:05 p.m. Breakout Session: Identification of research needs
4:05 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. Breakout Session: Identification of threats and conservation strategies for business plans
4:50 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Session Conclusions

The Canada Warbler is a natural species around which to promote and implement conservation of the Canadian boreal region and the Central and South American highlands. The Canadian Wildlife Service, Nature Canada, and BirdLife International are interested in exploring the potential for a new conservation partnership, similar to those for Golden-winged and Cerulean Warblers, to undertake research and monitoring, and to implement conservation action for this species in its breeding, migration and wintering range. This session will start the work of developing a strategy for addressing threats and knowledge gaps, as well as ensuring that key partners are engaged.

Session Leads: Judith Kennedy, Canadian Wildlife Service;; Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada;; Rob Clay, BirdLife International;
Speakers: Jeff Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1:45 pm); Gabriel Colorado, Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Amazonia (2:00 pm)

The solutions to bird conservation challenges generally require changing human behavior, rather than bird behavior. Additionally, many of our conservation successes occur as a result of harnessing people-related opportunities. In order to effectively engage people (from private landowners to policymakers to community members to birders) in conservation, it is critical that we understand human behavior and its drivers (e.g., social context, values, attitudes, motivations). This session will provide attendees with a background on how the social sciences are advancing our understanding of human dimensions of bird conservation. Through case studies, we will demonstrate how this social science information is best applied to design effective conservation strategies and projects with conservation results. Conference participants will receive useful tools from the Bird Education Alliance for Conservation and practice using them to draft strategies to feed into the geographic business plans.

Session Leads: Ashley Dayer, Cornell Lab of Ornithology & Bird Education Alliance for Conservation,; Jody Enck, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,; Kacie Miller, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory & Bird Education Alliance for Conservation,; Jennie Duberstein,; Debra Reynolds,

1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Welcome & Introductions
1:45 p.m. – 2:05 p.m. Human Dimensions 101: The Science, The Application, & Relevance to Business Plans
Ashley Dayer, PhD, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
2:05 p.m. – 2:25 p.m. Audience Assessment from Start to Finish: Connecting Agencies with Bird Conservation Tools
Allison Vogt, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
2:25 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Words Matter - Tailoring Conservation Messages Using Research about Birders
Jody Enck, Ph.D., Cornell Lab of Ornithology
2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Discussion
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. – 3:35 p.m. Using Education to Reduce Seabird Disturbance on Alcatraz Island
Melissa Pitkin, Point Blue Conservation Science
3:35 p.m. – 3:55 p.m. Fostering Playa Conservation with Private Land Owners
Kacie Miller, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (presenting for Misti Vazquez, Barth Crouch, & Mike Carter; Playa Lakes Joint Venture)
3:55 p.m. – 4:10 p.m. Discussion
4:10 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Hands-on Session
4:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wrap-up Discussion

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