The Birds Are Back in Town

This update was written by conservation ecologist Andy Boyce.
Sally says a lot of her field research requires waiting for an animal to defecate, which can take hours!
Newborn Western lowland gorilla being cradled in its mother's arms.
Sally works at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's genetics laboratory. 
Male pygmy slow loris, Pabu, stands with his hind legs on the edge of a wooden box on it's side. Pabu's front legs are on a branch coming up from under the box. There is another, darker and thicker branch below Pabu and in the foreground.
Male pygmy slow loris, Pabu, explores his habitat in the Small Mammal House.
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Salamanders like to hide under rocks and logs. Flip them slowly and carefully.
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Salamanders usually won't move as fast if the weather is cooler.
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It's important to be patient when searching for salamanders like this one.
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I handle salamanders as a scientist with gloves or with hands soiled in dirt, but I encourage people to not disturb wildlife.
Finding a salamander is extra rewarding when you have friends and family with you!
A small bird called a mountain plover stands among short grasses on a vast expanse of land at the American Prairie Reserve in Monatana
Mountain plovers only breed on large expanses of short-grass and bare ground in Western North America. Their numbers have declined steeply over the last 50 years, in part due to a 98% reduction in prairie dog towns across the west.

Luckily, much of the land here is protected in one way or another. American Prairie Reserve conserves vast areas of grassland for the benefit of biodiversity and the enjoyment of the public.  The Reserve has also begun to reintroduce American bison, whose grazing habits produce a mosaic of habitats – short grass for the McCown’s longspurs and mountain plovers, medium grass for the chestnut-collared longspurs and grasshopper sparrows, and tall luxuriant patches for Sprague’s pipits and Baird’s sparrows.

Ultimately, grassland conservation means providing a suitable home for everyone, from bison to birds alike.

Want to know more about this project? Check out additional videos, photos and blogs from the field.