Will Schmidt and his mother Lisa Roig are recipients of the 2020 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award. Courtesy/FOB
By TERRY FOXX
Friends of Bandelier
The Friends of Bandelier has selected Lisa Roig and her son Will Schmidt to receive its 2020 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award.
The founder of Friends of Bandelier, Dorothy Hoard, had a passion for teaching, history and conservation. When she died in March 2014, The Friends of Bandelier established the Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award to be given as her legacy and for her important contributions to Bandelier and the community.
This stewardship award is given to someone who has worked tirelessly toward stewardship of our natural resources.
This year the award goes to a conservation conscious adult and also a conservation passionate student. Roig and Schmidt, now a student at New Mexico Tech, are doing Hummingbird banding at a site in Bandelier National Monument.
Roig will receive $1,000 to use to buy necessary bird banding equipment on behalf of Bandelier. Funds that are not used for equipment will go toward travel to a Hummingbird banders meeting in Arizona.
Schmidt is receiving $500 to be spent toward equipment for bird banding. Previously, awards have funded tools used by Youth Corps in Bandelier Projects and for buses for student transportation to migratory bird banding sites in the fall.
Roig moved to New Mexico 15 years ago and began to homeschool her children. She has a degree in Environmental Science from Cornell, as well as graduate degrees in Hydrology and Civil Engineering from Colorado State University and UC Davis. She wanted to keep her children interested in science. She and Schmidt went on one of Bandelier’s passerine banding field trips and became hooked. They enjoyed hiking, bird watching and being in the out-of-doors. To encourage 11-year-old Schmidt, they kept volunteering. It is now a family affair— Roig, Schmidt and her husband all help. They band from Mid-May to Mid-October.
There are four species that they find in Bandelier:
- Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus);
- Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandi);
- Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus); and
- Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope).
Both the Broad-tailed and Black-chinned hummingbirds breed in the area and are present May through October. The Broad-tailed hummingbird is more common at higher elevations and the Black-chinned at lower. The Rufous and Calliope hummingbirds migrate through in the late Summer and Fall of the year. Roig finds the hummingbirds fascinating because of their use of the ecosystem. She particularly likes the Broad-tailed hummingbirds because they are common and breed in the area so you can view all stages of growth. In addition, “They have a lot of personality”, she said.
Bandelier National Monument has been designated an “Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society. We know that the varied habitats within the Monument support a wide variety of bird species, both for breeding and for migration. The biologists at Bandelier have been using bird banding as a tool to investigate species diversity, productivity and population trends within the monument for almost 20 years.
Hummingbirds were not included in the bird banding program because specialized techniques are required to trap, handle and band these tiny birds safely. Former Bandelier wildlife biologist Steve Fettig recognized that a separate effort would be required to monitor hummingbird populations within the Monument and began to look for ways to establish a hummingbird monitoring program in 2010. He partnered with the non-profit “Hummingbird Monitoring Network” to establish a monitoring site in Bandelier National Monument.
The Hummingbird Monitoring Network, or HMN, was established by Dr. Susan Wethington in 2000. HMN coordinates a network of hummingbird monitoring stations throughout the western United States, Canada and Mexico. All of the stations use the same protocols to ensure that the data collected are consistent between stations, and that all of the hummingbird banders are using the best practices to ensure bird safety and high-quality data.
Dr. Wethington, who works in Arizona, conducts training classes to teach hummingbird banding techniques and provides oversight of the HMN banding stations. Becoming a hummingbird bander requires training and a multi-year apprenticeship, so Fettig’s effort to establish a hummingbird monitoring station at Bandelier required a lot of forethought. The current monitoring station has been in operation since 2015.
Since Fettig’s departure from Bandelier in 2014, Roig has been leading the project as a volunteer with support from the Bandelier staff and a cadre of volunteers.
“We are learning a great deal about the ways hummingbirds use the habitats in Bandelier, and with continued monitoring over the long-term we will be able to identify trends in the hummingbird populations that visit the Monument,” she said.
Specialized training is required, and a significant time commitment. Roig made the commitment to train and take charge of the hummingbird project. Schmidt, too young to become a bander, assisted in all aspects of the project.
Operating the hummingbird monitoring station requires a cadre of volunteers to work alongside the lead bander. Schmidt is among the volunteers who has attended training courses and attends nearly every monitoring session.
Roig’s husband Joe Schmidt also is an active volunteer, attending every monitoring session and managing the logistics of the monitoring site while she is busy banding.
Dr. Bob Walker has been at work with the project since the very beginning. He helps with all aspects of monitoring, including trapping birds and recording data. Walker is a skilled photographer, providing documentary photographs of the monitoring program and of individual birds during banding. He often acts as educator for visitors to the banding site, which is most welcome because Roig needs to keep her focus on the health and safety of the birds.
Beth Cortright also has been with the project since 2015. She pitches in on all aspects of the monitoring operation and can be counted on to be there in the very early morning hours of operation.
Another faithful volunteer, Bob Loy, is always the first to arrive in the early morning hours. He works all aspects of the monitoring station. Loy has become so involved that he took the banders’ training course last year and is now apprenticing to become a hummingbird bander himself. His commitment may allow the team to add an additional monitoring station in a different habitat.
The team also includes Sarah Milligan, Keegan Tranquillo, Melanie Boncella, Katie Sayre and a host of intermittent volunteers.
“I am so grateful for everyone who donates their time and talents to the program,” Roig. “Special thanks go to Bandelier Biologist Sarah Milligan and Bandelier Supervisor Jason Lott, who give their wholehearted support to this effort.”
For more information about the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, visit hummonnet.org or hummingbirdmonitoringnetwork.