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Birds, Volume 2, Issue 3 (September 2021) – 8 articles

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Communication
Electromagnetic Pollution as a Possible Explanation for the Decline of House Sparrows in Interaction with Other Factors
Birds 2021, 2(3), 329-337; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030024 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1626
Abstract
In recent decades, there has been a decline of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), mainly in European cities, and several hypotheses have been proposed that attempt to determine the causes of this rapid decline. Previous studies indicated that house sparrows were [...] Read more.
In recent decades, there has been a decline of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), mainly in European cities, and several hypotheses have been proposed that attempt to determine the causes of this rapid decline. Previous studies indicated that house sparrows were significantly negatively associated with increasing electromagnetic radiation and sparrows disappeared from areas most polluted. In addition, there are many studies on the impact of radiation on other bird and non-bird species, as well as numerous laboratory studies that demonstrated detrimental effects at electric field strength levels that can be found in cities today. Electromagnetic radiation is the most plausible factor for multiple reasons, including that this is the only one that affects the other hypotheses proposed so far. It is a type of pollution that affects productivity, fertility, decreases insects (chicken feed), causes loss of habitat, decreases immunity and can promote disease. Additionally, the recent sparrow decline matches the deployment of mobile telephony networks. Further, there are known mechanisms of action for non-thermal effects of electromagnetic radiation that may affect sparrows causing their decline. Thus, electromagnetic radiation must be seriously considered as a factor for house sparrows’ decline, probably in synergy with the other factors previously proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Article
The Potential Role of Drove Roads as Connecting Corridors for Birds between Natura 2000 Sites
Birds 2021, 2(3), 314-328; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030023 - 15 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1403
Abstract
Ecological connectivity among protected Natura 2000 sites is a priority for conservation in Europe due to the increasing pressure on biodiversity from human activities and climate change. Drove roads, the traditional paths used to move livestock through the territory, have been proposed as [...] Read more.
Ecological connectivity among protected Natura 2000 sites is a priority for conservation in Europe due to the increasing pressure on biodiversity from human activities and climate change. Drove roads, the traditional paths used to move livestock through the territory, have been proposed as potential ecological corridors due to their large extent, continuous nature and centennial protection from ploughing and urbanization, which allows the persistence of some tree cover and natural habitats in them. Bird communities were sampled during the reproductive season along 19 drove road transects in agrarian landscapes between Natura 2000 sites, all of them around the conurbation of Madrid (Madrid Region, Spain). Bird community nestedness was assessed by NODF computation followed by significance estimation by aleatorization, and factors explaining species richness and bird abundance were analyzed through General Linear Models fitted with environmental variables measured on official vegetation maps and orthophotos. Bird communities in drove roads were significantly nested, showing high predictability in the order of species loss from better preserved sites to those under stronger environmental pressures. Accordingly, Poisson regression showed bird richness to decrease strongly with distance from the closest Natura 2000 site and to increase with forest cover at the landscape and at the drove road scales. Bird abundance increased strongly with distance from urban areas and motorways, and it was slightly higher in areas with more forest cover and in transects with less bare ground. These results, and the higher relevance detected for landscape scale variables (500 m around transects) than for those at the drove road (50 m) scale, show that (i) they can only play a secondary role as habitat for nesting birds but (ii) they may add to the Green Infrastructure strategy as facilitators or stepping stones for bird communities if the surrounding landscape is favorable for them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Influence of Habitat and Food Resource Availability on Common Raven Nest Site Selection and Reproductive Success in Mediterranean Forests
Birds 2021, 2(3), 302-313; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030022 - 09 Sep 2021
Viewed by 999
Abstract
Bird nest selection in forests can be influenced by the composition of key structural elements and resources. This has important consequences in terms of species population dynamics since it can determine reproduction success. Here, we assessed Common raven nest-site selection and reproductive success, [...] Read more.
Bird nest selection in forests can be influenced by the composition of key structural elements and resources. This has important consequences in terms of species population dynamics since it can determine reproduction success. Here, we assessed Common raven nest-site selection and reproductive success, and how these might be determined by foraging behavior and habitat structure. A previously documented breeding raven population that exerts high predation pressure on young Spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) in a Mediterranean forest was monitored. Generalized linear mixed models were performed to determine the singularities of the trees with nests and the drivers of reproductive success of breeding pairs of ravens. The results showed a high density of breeding pairs in the study area (0.8 pairs/km2), which selected taller trees in areas with higher bare ground cover and a high density of tortoises for nesting. Nests were spatially aggregated; breeding pairs occupied smaller territories and intraspecific competition seemed relaxed, reflecting the abundance of food resources. Most breeding pairs occasionally predated on young tortoises. Tortoises seem to play a part in raven reproductive success in our study area, which might be associated with the availability/catchability of young tortoises. The study illustrates that Spur-thighed tortoise distribution and abundance plays a role in the breeding behavior of ravens and is mediated by habitat structure. Understanding the drivers of nest-site selection and the breeding behavior of ravens is pivotal to implementing appropriate habitat management and conservation strategies across their distribution range, particularly in areas where ravens potentially affect threatened species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Tracking Changes of Hidden Food: Spatial Pattern Learning in Two Macaw Species
Birds 2021, 2(3), 285-301; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030021 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1507
Abstract
Food availability may vary spatially and temporally within an environment. Efficiency in locating alternative food sources using spatial information (e.g., distribution patterns) may vary according to a species’ diet and habitat specialisation. Hypothetically, more generalist species would learn faster than more specialist species [...] Read more.
Food availability may vary spatially and temporally within an environment. Efficiency in locating alternative food sources using spatial information (e.g., distribution patterns) may vary according to a species’ diet and habitat specialisation. Hypothetically, more generalist species would learn faster than more specialist species due to being more explorative when changes occur. We tested this hypothesis in two closely related macaw species, differing in their degree of diet and habitat specialisation; the more generalist Great Green Macaw and the more specialist Blue-throated Macaw. We examined their spatial pattern learning performance under predictable temporal and spatial change, using a ‘poke box’ that contained hidden food placed within wells. Each week, the rewarded wells formed two patterns (A and B), which were changed on a mid-week schedule. We found that the two patterns varied in their difficulty. We also found that the more generalist Great Green Macaws took fewer trials to learn the easier pattern and made more mean correct responses in the difficult pattern than the more specialist Blue-throated Macaws, thus supporting our hypothesis. The better learning performance of the Great Green Macaws may be explained by more exploration and trading-off accuracy for speed. These results suggest how variation in diet and habitat specialisation may relate to a species’ ability to adapt to spatial variation in food availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Communication
Seabirds in Conditions of Local Chronic Oil Pollution, Davis Sea, Antarctica
Birds 2021, 2(3), 275-284; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030020 - 05 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1156
Abstract
Oil spills are rare in Antarctica. They threaten flying birds and penguins. This is the first report on the interactions of seabirds with oil in the area of the Mirny Station (East Antarctica). The purpose of the study is to determine the total [...] Read more.
Oil spills are rare in Antarctica. They threaten flying birds and penguins. This is the first report on the interactions of seabirds with oil in the area of the Mirny Station (East Antarctica). The purpose of the study is to determine the total number of seabird species interacting with oil in and around the Mirny Station, to assess the extent of pollution and to identify the most important sites of interactions. Oil pollution is found on the ground, on the continental ice and, on the seawater surface, both directly in the Mirny and beyond. Five species of seabirds were in contact with oil. Oil pollution threats have been identified for breeding and molting Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) and vagrant Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus). Less affected by oil pollution during the breeding season were tube-nosed bird species and skuas. The most important places of interaction of seabirds with oil are at Cape Mabus, on the islands of Zykov, Tokarev, and Stroiteley. Evidence of long-term oil pollution of the environment is indicative of the chronic nature of the impacts on the coastal ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Using Bioacoustics to Examine Vocal Phenology of Neotropical Migratory Birds on a Wild and Scenic River in Arizona
Birds 2021, 2(3), 261-274; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030019 - 02 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1359
Abstract
Passive acoustic recorders have been used successfully as automated survey tools to detect terrestrial wildlife. However, few studies have monitored Neotropical migratory bird use of riparian forest habitat using this technology. Within dryland ecosystems, the forests along rivers support high bird diversity. Many [...] Read more.
Passive acoustic recorders have been used successfully as automated survey tools to detect terrestrial wildlife. However, few studies have monitored Neotropical migratory bird use of riparian forest habitat using this technology. Within dryland ecosystems, the forests along rivers support high bird diversity. Many bird species of conservation concern require these floodplain forest habitats for foraging, migration stop-overs, and breeding. Few studies have explored the use of acoustic records in riverine systems designated for conservation for their natural resource value via the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in the USA. Using acoustic recorders, we document vocal activity of four riparian-obligate species (Bell’s Vireo, Vireo bellii; Summer Tanager, Piranga rubra; Yellow Warbler, Setophaga petechial; and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus) to determine species occurrence along a Wild and Scenic River. We established three study reaches along the perennial Lower Verde River, in the Sonoran Desert of central Arizona, USA. Nine acoustic recorders were used over the period of 80–120 days during the summer of 2018. We measured vegetation composition and structure in 100 m2 plots paired with acoustic recorders. Visualizing vocal activity showed that three species were calling and singing at each reach; whereas, one species, the cuckoo, had fewer recordings and occurred later in the summer. We demonstrate the utility of acoustic monitoring even when applied to rare birds in complex riparian habitats. This information is important for land management and conservation efforts concerning these species of interest and identifying important habitat features in Southwestern US riparian woodlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
An Analysis of Heterogeneity in German Speaking Birdwatchers Reveals Three Distinct Clusters and Gender Differences
Birds 2021, 2(3), 250-260; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030018 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1147
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to segment birdwatchers into clusters. Members from a wide range of bird related organizations, from highly specialized birders as well as Facebook bird group members were studied to provide a diverse dataset (n = 2766; 50.5% [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to segment birdwatchers into clusters. Members from a wide range of bird related organizations, from highly specialized birders as well as Facebook bird group members were studied to provide a diverse dataset (n = 2766; 50.5% men). Birding specialization was measured with a battery of questionnaires. Birding specialization encompassed the three constructs of skill/competence, behavior, personal and behavioral commitment. Additionally, involvement, measured by centrality to lifestyle, attraction, social bonding, and identity, was used. The NbClust analyses showed that a three-cluster solution was the optimal solution. Then, k-means cluster analysis was applied on three groups: casual/novice, intermediate, and specialist/advanced birdwatchers. More men than women were in the specialist/advanced group and more women than men in the casual/novice group. As a conclusion, this study confirms a three-cluster solution for segmenting German birdwatchers based on a large and diverse sample and a broad conceptualization of the construct birding specialization. These data can be used to address different target audiences (novices, advanced birders) with different programs, e.g., in nature conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Differential Long-Term Population Responses of Two Closely Related Human-Associated Sparrow Species with Respect to Urbanization
Birds 2021, 2(3), 230-249; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds2030017 - 24 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1662
Abstract
Urban planning and management need long-term population level studies for evaluating how urbanization influences biodiversity. Firstly, we reviewed the current population trends of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) in Europe, and evaluated [...] Read more.
Urban planning and management need long-term population level studies for evaluating how urbanization influences biodiversity. Firstly, we reviewed the current population trends of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) in Europe, and evaluated the usefulness of citizens’ science projects to monitor these species in Finland. Secondly, we conducted a long-term (1991–2020) winter field study in 31 urban settlements along a 950 km north–south extent in Finland to study how latitude, weather and urbanization influence on sparrow’s growth rates. The House Sparrow is declining in 15 countries, and increasing in 5, whereas the Eurasian Tree Sparrow is declining in 12 and increasing in 9 European countries. The trend of the House Sparrow was significantly negative in continental Europe. However, the trend of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow was not significant. Both species have declined simultaneously in six countries, whereas in four countries, their trends are opposite. Citizen-based, long-term (2006–2020) winter season project data indicated that House Sparrow has decreased, whereas Eurasian Tree Sparrow has increased in Finland. However, the short-term (2013–2020) breeding season citizen-based project data did not indicate significant changes in the occupation rate of sparrows. Our long-term (1991–2020) field study indicated that wintering populations of the House Sparrow have decreased, whereas the Eurasian Tree Sparrows have both expanded their wintering range and increased their population size. Based on our winter count data, latitude and weather did not significantly influence the growth rates of sparrows. When the human population increased within the study plot, House Sparrow populations decreased, and vice versa. There was also a trend that a decreasing number of feeding sites has decreased the House Sparrow numbers. Urban-related factors did not influence the growth rate of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Our results indicate that the colonization of a new, even closely related species does not influence negatively on earlier urbanized species. It is probable that the niches of these sparrow species are different enough for allowing them to co-occur. The House Sparrow mainly nests on buildings, whereas the Eurasian Tree Sparrow can easily accept, e.g., nest boxes. Urban planning should take care of both the food availability and nest sites availability for both sparrow species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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