Birds are an important part of the world we live in. They eat pests, spread seeds, pollinate plants, feed us, and provide enjoyment. And, they are beautiful, flying creatures. Who hasn’t wanted to soar like a bird at one time or another? Birds are a significant component of park ecosystems. Their habitat requirements and diverse diets make birds good indicators of changes in an ecosystem – the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. But, many grassland and woodland birds are declining in number. There are many reasons, such as habitat loss, global warming, wind turbines, and cats.
We track the types and numbers of birds that nest in national parks to determine the health of bird communities. We do this by surveying birds during the breeding season. We also characterize their habitat. For example, the amount of forest and grassland, and vegetation structure. Over time, we look for trends in the community. For context, we compare our findings to trends in the region. Long-term population trends in the bird community help us to assess the quality and sustainability of park ecosystems.
Volunteer Bird Monitoring at Homestead National Monument of America
Methods:For details on methods of bird surveys see Peitz et al. (2008).
- Bird communities were monitored at 9 points by Jesse M. Bolli and Joshua B. Grey on May 16th.
- All birds seen or heard in a 5-minute sampling period at each plot were recorded.
- Residency status of each species was established prior to analysis of the data (Sharpe et al. 2001).
- Using hot-spot-analysis in ArcGIS, areas of higher and lower species richness on the monument were determined.
- Calculated number of individuals encountered per plot visit, and proportion of plots occupied by a species.
Summary of Findings:
- Thirty-four bird species were observed during surveys. All 34 species are resident or summer resident species thus considered breeding species at HOME (Table 1).
- The most commonly occurring and widespread birds on HOME are the Dickcissel and Red-winged Blackbird, respectively.
- Two species – Bell’s Vireo and Red-headed Woodpecker - are of conservation concern for the Central Mixed-grass Prairie Bird Conservation Region were recorded (Figure 1).
- Hot-spot-analysis showed that species richness varied across the Monument (Figure 2).
Individuals / plot visit
|Proportion of plots occupied|
|Eurasian Collared Dove||R||0.22||0.22|
|Great Blue Heron||R||0.33||0.11|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow||SR||0.33||0.22|
1 Residency status: R = year around resident; SR = summer resident (Sharpe et al. 2001).
Bolded species names are those species considered of conservation concern for the Central Mixed-grass Prairie Bird Conservation Region. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2008).
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Learn more about the Heartland Inventory & Monitoring Network.
Data in this report were collected and analyzed using methods based on established, peer-reviewed protocols and were analyzed and interpreted within the guidelines of the protocols.
Data for year 2018 have undergone quality control and certification, but not previously published.
Last updated: December 3, 2018