1 Tahrcountry Musings: The Role of Urban Forests in Bird Migration

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Role of Urban Forests in Bird Migration

The latest issue of journal Landscape Ecology has an excellent paper by landscape ecologists Stephen Matthews and Paul Rodewaldon on the role played by urban forests in bird migration. The scientists gathered the data by fitting tiny tags to Swainson's thrushes (Catharus ustulatus). The study examined seven urban forests, the smallest of which was an arboretum that was less than one hectare.
The new study says even a small urban forest can help migrating birds. Urban greenery is used by birds to rest and refuel in the middle of their journey between winter and breeding sites. The scientist says it was not necessarily the forest size that was influencing the birds. On the contrary they were responding to internal factors, such as fat reserves they had. Within migration, land birds spend up to 90% of their time resting and regaining energy at stopover sites.
The new study suggests that remnant forests within urban areas have conservation value for Swainson's thrushes and, potentially, other migrant land birds.

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