It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope wait it’s definitely a bird.
For this issue’s Public Profile we sat down with former Board member and current columnist for Rogue Valley Audubon Society, Jeff Tufts. We discussed the bird population in the valley, threats to their ecosystem, and the costs of going green. RVAS is a group dedicated to the observation, protection, and general enjoyment of the bird population and habitats in the Rogue Valley. RVAS has monthly members meetings and bird sighting field trips for bird enthusiasts.
Rogue Valley Messenger: Are there any rare species located in the valley? What makes it an appealing spot for birding?
Jeff Tufts: I don’t think we have any super rare species around here. The main attraction in Jackson County is that there’s a big variety of habitats and species. During the summer Mt Ashland is a really big attraction, and just the various bodies of water around here like Immigrant Lake and Lost Creek provide for some spectacular birding. There’s also a place that’s pretty popular in certain times of the year by Rogue Sewer Services in the City of Medford. The area is basically just sewer ponds, but it attracts a lot of birds and during migration people usually go out there because we get a great variety.
RVM: Do you have any favorite species?
JT: There is one bird in particular called a white-tailed kite that I really like. It got the name because when they’re hunting they kind of hover in the air the way a kite does; they are kind of smallish Hawks and they hunt small rodents. They are much more common in the winter in Jackson County, and they’re just very interesting birds to look at. They are small as hawks go, but they are almost all white except for a couple of black marks every now and then they are very fun to watch.
RVM: What are some of the biggest threats to the bird population and ecosystem in the Rogue Valley?
JT: The biggest concern in terms of the bird population is just loss of habitat. In an area like Jackson County, no matter how much you like birds you just kind of have to recognize that it’s an area that’s growing in population and will probably continue to grow. Some bird habitat is going to be lost. A couple of weeks ago there was a story in the Mail Tribune saying the county is going to be putting in solar panels off of McLoughlin Road. From an environmental standpoint, using solar instead of something that uses fossil fuels is probably great in the long run; but the solar panels will be eliminating some of the birds habitats. So it’s a tough kind of thing, on the one hand you’re glad they’re doing it from the green aspect. On the other, you hope that not too much of the open property will be taken away. It’s a developing area; every time you have an open field that has some trees that is turned into apartments or condominiums warehouses, you are eliminating bird habitat. As much as we love birds, we realize that we can’t expect for everything to be left wide open for them. It’s something you have to accept.
Published May 26, 2016. Rogue Valley Messenger.