Cities have a role to play in bird conservation

by Kathi Borgmann, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
May 16, 2023

Cities provide important connections to nature as well as habitat for many species, according to new research in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Many people tend to think of cities as places devoid of nature, but a study by researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Auburn University and Rutgers University suggests that cities offer unique opportunities for wildlife conservation, not to mention the value that nature can have for human health and well-being.

“As a city kid growing up during the 1980s, I was fascinated with peregrine falcons that nested on high-rise buildings, and that experience is what sparked my interest in birds and nature,” said co-author Frank La Sorte, a researcher at the Lab of Ornithology. “Observing birds in cities gives us an opportunity to see nature as something that is part of our well-being and if we protect nature, in the end we are protecting ourselves.”

To document the value of cities to the bird themselves, the team combined bird observations made by citizen scientists to the Lab’s eBird program; federal and state lists of threatened and endangered bird species in the United States; critical habitat designations for threatened and endangered species in the U.S.; and 2010 U.S. Census data.

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