Flycatcher and Cuckoo ― Dwindling Species Guest Speaker: Vicky Ryan, Bureau of Reclamation
This month’s Guest Speaker, Vicky Ryan, is the ornithologist for the Bureau of Reclamation, Albuquerque Area office. She will provide an update on the Bureau’s involvement with the willow flycatcher and Yellow-billed cuckoo. Learn about the results of monitoring studies that compare historical ranges for these species with their current distribution across the Western United States.
During the past 80 years, the population of Yellow-billed Cuckoos has declined dramatically due to habitat loss and modification as well as a reduction of food resources due to pesticides. The Rio Grande is considered one of the important strongholds for the species, and historically Cuckoos were “fairly common” along sections of the river. Based on recent survey results, it appears the San Marcial reach of the Middle Rio Grande currently supports one of the largest remaining Yellow-billed Cuckoo populations in the Southwestern United States.
Another bird, the southwestern willow flycatcher, has suffered more than a century of steady decline. Livestock grazing, dams, water withdrawal, and sprawl have robbed this sentinel-like songbird of more than 90 percent of its riparian habitat — and left it all the more vulnerable to other birds that prey on its eggs or use its nests to incubate their own eggs.