Cactus Wren in Phoenix, Arizona
Source: About.com: Phoenix

Birds present wonderful opportunities for human connection to nature in cities, however birds also face many challenges to survival in urban areas. Recent research explores the connection between birds and the city, and suggests ways to improve the important connection between birds and urban habitats. The following is a showcase of current bird-related studies in Biophilic Cities around the world.

San Francisco, California

Researchers studied bird song over time in San Francisco, California, determining that as urban noises change, species will likely evolve and adapt communication methods accordingly (Birdsongs keep pace with city life: Animal Behaviour, April 2012). An earlier study in San Francisco measured the effects of urban trail users on shorebirds, and found that while use of trails did not comparatively influence shorebird population or species richness, high volume trail use (such as on weekends) has a potential negative impact on shorebird foraging (Foraging Shorebird Response to Trail Use: Journal of Wildlife Management, November 2008).

Hong Kong

Researchers in Hong Kong conducted a multi-season study of 30 urban parks to determine how the type and size of each park, along with the nature of human use and the type of vegetation, influenced presence and richness of bird communities (How would size, age, human disturbance, and vegetation structure affect bird communities of urban parks in different seasons?: Journal of Ornithology, October 2012).

London, England

Another team studied waterfowl species during subsequent winter seasons in South West London, seeking (and not necessarily finding) correlation between wildlife conservation efforts and the particular species’ habitat preferences (Habitat selection and waterbody-complex use by wintering Gadwall and Shoveler in South West London: Journal for Nature Conservation, August 2012).

Phoenix, Arizona

In Phoenix, Arizona, researchers studied the potential of people’s front and back yards to increase urban biodiversity, particularly native bird species. The study concluded that native desert landscaping, proximity to large areas of desert, and socioeconomic factors, influenced presence of greater bird species diversity (The conservation value of residential yards: Ecological Applications, June 2011).

Brisbane, Australia

Finally, in Brisbane, Australia, researchers conducted a longitudinal study to compare bird populations in forested and suburban settings, concluding that urban planners can implement land use and land cover management techniques to help maintain desired bird species diversity, even as landscapes are urbanizing (Long-term dynamics of bird diversity in forest and suburb: Diversity and Distributions, May 2010).

Works Referenced:

Catterall, Carla P., Jarrad A. Cousin, Scott Piper, and Gayle Johnson. “Long-term dynamics of bird diversity in forest and suburb: decay, turnover, or homogenization?” Diversity and Distributions: A Journal of Conservation Biogeography 16 (4) July 2010: 559-570.

Briggs, Brian D.J., David A. Hill, and Andrew G. Gosler. “Habitat selection and waterbody-complex use by wintering Gadwall and Shoveler in South West London: Implications for the designation and management of multi-site protected areas.” Journal for Nature Conservation 20 (4) August 2012: 200-210.

Lerman, Susannah B. and Paige S. Warren “The conservation value of residential yards: linking birds and people.” Ecological Applications 21 (4) June 2011: 1327-1339.

Luther, David A. and Elizabeth P. Derryberry. “Birdsongs keep pace with city life: changes in song over time in an urban songbird affects communication.” Animal Behaviour 83 (4) April 2012: 1059-1066.

Trulio, Lynne A. and Jana Sokale. “Foraging Shorebird Response to Trail Use Around San Francisco Bay.” Journal of Wildlife Management 72 (8) November 2008: 1775-1780.

Zhou, Daqing and L.M. Chu. “How would size, age, human disturbance, and vegetation structure affect bird communities of urban parks in different seasons?” Journal of Ornithology 153 (4) October 2012: 1101-1112.

Julia Triman, Biophilic Cities Project Researcher 

Julia is a masters degree candidate in Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia.