BIRDSwithFISH is a community science initiative exploring the diets of coastal Oregon birds through non-invasive community sourced photography. It is a project designed to engage experienced nature photographers in Oregon to submit both old and new photos of birds with fish in their bills and talons along the coastline including in the brackish water zones of estuaries and bays.
The inspiration for BIRDSwithFISH began with a review of the 2020 US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision not to list tufted puffins under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In that decision, the USFWS identified some important data gaps for tufted puffins in Oregon one of which included the question, what are these Oregon birds eating?
It quickly became evident that having an understanding of what all coastal Oregon birds are eating could provide important context for understand the diets of our tufted puffins. Hence, BIRDSwithFISH was born as part of a graduate certificate program at Oregon State University and with the goal of laying the foundation of answering, what are coastal Oregon birds eating throughout the year?
The Oregon coast is a unique ecosystem along the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. It is rich with bird life, supporting at least 15 seabird species and countless more migratory and resident species that rely on the coastal ecosystem. Oregon’s 1,853 off-shore islands provide roosting, breeding, nesting and fledgling habitat for many of these bird species. Along the Oregon coast you’ll find pinnipeds, cetaceans and explorers from the mouths of Oregon’s estuaries like river otters and raptors.
Information gained in this community science project for a focal species like the tufted puffin can provide vital data for increasing our understanding of the species’ current status and how to move forward with research and conservation in Oregon. (Left: Photo by Keith Wallach)