NPS Heartland Network
NPS: The Good Steward
Science plays an important role in the management of national parks. One method park rangers use to measure the health of a natural habitat is inventorying the birds that nest there. Each kind of bird will only nest in an area if its specific habitat requirements are in place. Does the forest have a healthy understory? Does the grassland have a natural composition of native prairie plants? These are the kinds of requirements that our breeding birds look for before they choose the park as a nesting site.
During each nesting season, national park rangers and volunteers use careful scientific procedures to monitor the diversity and numbers of birds that nest at the park. If a type of bird declines in numbers or a new species begins nesting here, it can tell park managers whether the park’s various habitats are healthy, improving or being degraded. Like a good steward, the National Park Service monitors and protects our most significant natural and historical sites for the sake of all Americans.