In 2007, Otis Bay set up nine point count transects along the Walker River corridor. The transects start along the upper West and East Forks of the Walker River and tributary creeks in California and extend downstream through the main stem of the Walker River in Nevada. Since then, the Great Basin Bird Observatory (GBBO) has set up additional transects bringing the transect total to over twenty. GBBO and Otis Bay biologists regularly participate in the breeding bird monitoring program, which provides valuable data for both the Walker River and the state of Nevada. Point count data using GBBO’s Nevada Bird Count protocol are used to monitor breeding bird populations along the riparian corridor. Intensive area search surveys and aquatic counts have also been conducted. Modified or degraded riparian habitats dominate the arid West, and as a result, several conservation-priority bird species are experiencing wide-spread population declines. Walker River bird surveys have determined that habitat-specialist avian species dependent on successional riparian communities, which are driven by natural flow regimes and in need of space for dynamic floodplain processes, would become increasingly threatened if trends in water management and urban and agricultural development continue. Breeding bird monitoring data provides information on population trends and habitat use that can be used to guide management strategies for maintaining and improving river and riparian ecosystem integrity. Restoration of riparian habitats in the arid West can help many bird populations currently on the decline from habitat loss.
Avian monitoring on the Walker River is an ongoing effort coordinated between Otis Bay and GBBO (see GBBO’s link). Reports and scientific journal articles based on collected data, and also a bird checklist for the lower Walker River, have been published or are in press.
Great Basin Bird Observatory. 2008. Habitat models for six focal species of breeding birds of the Walker River. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 12 pp.
Young, J.S., Ammon, E.A., Weisberg, P.J., Dilts, T.E., Newton, WE., Wong-Kone, D.C., and Heki, L.G. 2013. Comparison of bird community indices for riparian restoration planning and monitoring. Ecological Indicators