Nest Survival of Urban-adapted Songbirds in Residential Yards and Adjacent Forest Parks

Nest Survival of Urban-adapted Songbirds in Residential Yards and Adjacent Forest Parks

Research presented by Jennifer Malpass at the 2014 joint meeting of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists held in Estes Park, CO.

Conservation efforts for urban birds have traditionally been directed at habitat protected from human development, such as forest parks, in part because there is a widespread assumption that the surrounding areas may be reproductive sinks. However, there have been many contradictory findings regarding the effect of urbanization on nest survival, and this assumption has not been explicitly tested. We compared nest survival rates of two urban-adapted bird species and nest predator identities in adjacent forest parks and residential yards in seven neighborhoods in Franklin County, Ohio between 2011 and 2014. We found Northern Cardinal and American Robin experienced equivalent or even enhanced nest survival in residential yards compared to forest parks, and had greater nest concealment in yards versus parks. We also documented that different species represent important nest predators depending on habitat (forest or yard) and host species (cardinal or robin). Our findings support the idea that management efforts in yards may have positive benefits for the conservation of urban-adapted birds.

Shown left to right: Jenn Malpass setting up a nest camera in a tree . A nest camera in a tree.
 


Photographs by Stephanie Belkie.