Naturalist Nights 2015 | Jason Beason
The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a shy and secretive species that depends on extensive riparian forests for its survival. The population of this species in the western United States has dwindled because of construction of dams, excessive grazing in riparian areas, and an overall reduction of available habitat. As of November 3, 2014 the species is now protected as a threatened species west of the continental divide under the Endangered Species Act. It is difficult to find historical information about this species in western Colorado but cuckoos were once more common in the Grand Junction area along the Colorado River and near Delta at the Uncompahgre and Gunnison River confluence. The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory conducted surveys for cuckoos in western Colorado during the summers of 2008 through 2011 and found them along the North Fork of the Gunnison River (Delta County), the Colorado River (Mesa County), near Nucla (Montrose County), and the Yampa River (Moffat County). A handful of incidental detections were also recorded during this time, but it was concluded that the species is a very rare breeder in western Colorado after surveys were completed. We are uncertain of the total population size in western Colorado because the surveys covered only a small percentage of the available habitat. Hopefully one of the results of listing the species will be an increase in the number of surveys which will help us understand breeding requirements and population health so we can conserve habitat for the species.
Jason, Special Monitoring Projects Coordinator at Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, received a bachelor’s from The Ohio State University in 1990 where he majored in natural resources. After college, he moved out west and began birding and has worked on a wide variety of avian survey projects involving birds throughout the western U.S. He is currently the Special Monitoring Projects Coordinator for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and manages projects surveying for low-density species, researching the impacts of climate change on birds, and conducing research on bird migration throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Jason, his wife Kerry, and their son Otus and daughter Twyla, own and operate Rain Crow Farm near Paonia, Colorado. They are proud of the habitat they provide for birds and all wildlife at their farm along the North Fork of the Gunnison River and their yard birdlist is currently at 186 species!
Naturalist Nights are brought to you through a partnership between Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wilderness Workshop, and Roaring Fork Audubon.