Why we care

Birds with Fish is a grassroots community science initiative designed to use non-invasive photography to collect diet data on Oregon’s coastal birds. We’re focused on engaging coastal communities in raising awareness about tufted puffins and other coastal birds that rely on the bounties of Oregon’s coastal and estuarine waters. Through encouraging community members to participate in taking pictures of birds carrying fish in their bills or talons along the Oregon coast, Birds with Fish is addressing both an ecological question and community enhancement.

We hope to increase our understanding of what birds are eating, how it might be changing over time, and if there are other factors influencing their diets.

What do we collect data on, exactly?

Coastal bird diets:

Many of Oregon’s coastal bird species nest and forage in difficult to access places such as the tops of sheer nearshore islands, the sides of steep headlands and the deep offshore waters. Studying the diets of these birds is an equally challenging task. Birds with Fish seeks to address this question, what are Oregon’s coastal birds eating?, by using non-invasive community-sourced photography along the entirety of the coastline.

Noah Dolinajec – Seabird Oceanography Lab

Over time we hope to create a robust dataset that gives context to what fish or marine/estuarine invertebrates birds are eating along the Oregon coast.

Predator disturbances:

Oregon has seen a phenomenal recovery in the population numbers of species like bald eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. Along the Oregon coast this recovery has been especially strong and thus has had ramifications on surface and burrow nesting seabirds.

The Seabird Oceanography Lab at Oregon State University has been monitoring the impacts of bald eagle disturbances on the reproductive successes of common murre colonies at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon for over a decade. Birds with Fish, a Seabird Oceanography Lab led initiative, has adapted this monitoring to focus on bald eagle (and other disturbances) at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. This data will provide important information about whether bald eagles might be impacting Haystack Rock’s remaining tufted puffin population.

Assisting with other coastal monitoring:

While we are still interested in collecting photographs of any coastal Oregon bird with fish/invertebrates from coastal or estuarine waters, tufted puffins are the focal species of Birds with Fish. What this means is that we place a special importance on the collection of photographs of tufted puffins with prey in their bills up and down the Oregon coast. Birds with Fish has provided support to agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 2021 boat-based tufted puffin surveys and island burrow checks along the Oregon coast. In addition, our wide-reaching collaborations with coastal conservation groups have led to assistance in the monitoring of beached birds along the coastline.

Photo credit: Alyssa Nelson – USFWS Oregon Coast NWR Complex Intern
Birds with Fish welcomes you:

The Oregon coast is a dynamic and diverse ecosystem with an incredible array of species. This biodiverse region is a powerful reminder of the importance of diversity within any endeavor.

Birds with Fish is dedicated to providing inclusive and equitable opportunities to engage in coastal avian conservation and research with the removal of traditional barriers such as race, sex, age, education, culture, religion or other socioeconomic, sociopolitical or geographically inspired barriers. In addition, we believe deeply in the importance of providing a stage for traditionally disenfranchised coastal indigenous communities to re-enter the conservation conversation in the Pacific Northwest. We hope to fuse the power of traditional tribal ecological knowledge with the work our project has set out to do.

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