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New book on 100 years of Illinois birds
Date:12/6/2010

ave gone from ag fields in 1900s to a forest in 1950s, back to ag fields in the 2000s."

What's changed bird-wise in the past century?

Walk said 26 species were found in the 2000s, but not 50 or 100 years ago, including wood ducks, house finches, and collared doves. While only one species has been eliminated from Illinois, there are several species that are declining. "What we were really struck by is that shrubland and savanna birds such as red-headed woodpeckers, brown thrashers, field sparrows, and bobwhites have been declining for about a century and grassland birds such as pheasants, meadowlarks, dickcissels, and bobolinks have declined dramatically in the past 50 years."

If this downward trajectory continues, field sparrows and bobwhite are going to be in bad shape, said Ward.

"Shrubland birds don't need a lot to survive, just some messy shrubbery. Everything is so manicured today. If we don't mow roadsides until July, that would serve as a good habitat for them."

Ward said that stepping in now and making them a conservation priority will bode well for them in the future. "We know that conservation measures taken early in a species decline are much more effective than waiting until there are only a handful left. This survey, combined with the first two, gives us a really good handle on what the conservation priorities should be in the future," Walk said.

Walk said the 1900s survey gave them a baseline. "In the 1950s they had seen some changes, but they had only two data points. Now we have three and better statistical tools to look at long term trends, so we have a much better grasp on how things have changed over the last 100 years."

With three surveys spanning 100 years, there are huge amounts of data to crunch. Brawn, T.J. Benson, and Jill Deppe provided technical expertise in developing population models using techniques that weren't available 100 or even 50 years ago. "We were able to ta
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Contact: Debra Levey Larso
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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