Thursday, April 3, 2008

Birds prefer the country life over the urban jungle

Not really that shocking...

But according to this from ScienceDaily, most ecologists thought that the high rate of nest failures of migratory birds who set up homes in the city was due to urban predators such as house cats and raccoons.

The results of a six year study "showed that predators weren’t the main problem: instead, the birds just didn’t seem to like urban areas and gave up more easily." Urban dwelling birds arrived late in the spring, left early in the fall and attempted fewer nests.

Acadian Flycatchers, who nested in cities, tended to be smaller than those that nest in rural areas, leading researchers to believe that smaller or lower-quality Acadian Flycatchers were forced to nest in urban areas due to lack of habitat in rural areas.

Researchers are now trying to determine if a bird's city life of noise, light pollution, invasive plants and cowbird nest parasitism are leading to nest failures.

According to Amanda Rodewald, associate professor of wildlife ecology at Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, “So much of the world is becoming urbanized, from a conservation perspective, really understanding how animals respond to urbanization is going to be important for protecting biodiversity.”

In other news, a city Red-Tailed Hawk, living in Fenway Park attacked a girl who was touring the park. The girl wandered within 40 feet of the hawk's nest and the mother hawk swooped down and cut the girl with its talons.

The girl was released from the hospital and the nest and egg were removed from the ballpark.


Nervous Birds said...

Major League Baseball had an opportunity to do something impressive and instead, they evict a local raptor. It's okay, I prefer the minor leagues anyway.

Excellent information BC!


Kay said...

Researchers trying to discover the reason for undersized birds and high nest failure rate in urban areas need to look first at the food supply. I suspect the main problem is too few native plants and thus insufficient insect biomass. According to Dr. Douglas Tallamy (author of Bringing Nature Home) 97% of all terrestrial birds rely on significant biomass to survive. That is particularly true of nesting birds. Virtually all nestlings require sufficient high protein diets to develop; that protein comes from insects. Since urban areas are filled with non-native ornamentals and invasive aliens, and since our native insects thrive only on native plants, there is little food for native insects. Conservationists and researchers are generally not looking at this critical problem.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

I had not thought of the role of native insects and their value as a protein source for nesting birds.

You are always teaching us something! Thanks for posting!