Bird Islands (Habitat Fragmentation)

We know that habitat loss is the single greatest threat to bird populations. There have been lots of studies involving habitat fragmentation and its effect on breeding bird populations and all of them show that for many species large patches of good quality habitat are far more beneficial to birds. Does this mean we should just give up on all small patches of habitat?

In Urban settings, small patches of quality habitat are generally found only in parks and waterways that have been spared from development. How important are they? Do birds use these areas in migration? How about for nesting? Most of you know Ruth is working on her Master’s Degree in Biology but few know the details of her study. Ruth is studying bird utilization of remaining quality patches of habitat along the Blue River Parkway.

With one full year of research information under her belt, Ruth is about to start work on year two of data collection. Each April, May and June, Ruth records all birds she sees and hears during six 10 minute count periods along preset routes.

During year one she recorded 109 species in the study area including several birds that birders long to see each year. Mourning & Prothonotary Warbler, Scarlet & Summer Tanagers, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and Broad-winged Hawks have all made appearances.

What will show up this spring? Would you like to be part of the fun? Come to Ruth’s class on Wednesday March 21st (see calendar) to learn more about the study and gather information on how you can lend a hand.

By Mark McKellar

Winter 2007