Crows and ravens have also increased greatly, as they have across the nation, Shultz said. She saw a similar increase in other species that adapt well to human habitats: the Ring-Billed Gull, hawks and Mourning Doves, for example. A pair of Cooper's Hawks has nested in the campus's eucalyptus grove for nearly 10 years, while Red-Shouldered and Red-Tailed Hawks are common.
"These birds are really good at exploiting the refuse associated with humanity; they're very adaptable and smart, quickly learning the routines people develop, and they're good at surviving in a wide variety of environments," Bowie said.
Overall, the findings make Bowie and Shultz optimistic about the ability of urban green spaces, and college campuses in particular, to serve as islands of diversity.
"It is time for urban green spaces to be thought of not only as hospices for diversity, but also as potential nurseries," the researchers wrote in their paper.
Campus landscape architect Jim Horner was pleased to hear about the healthy bird population, but noted that he can't take the credit.
"It's fun to see that birds are still flocking to campus despite all we've built here over time, but it's a happy accident," he said. "Long-term efforts to keep the campus vegetatively diverse, including setting aside natural areas and open space, benefit all populations."
Dusty files turn out to be gold mine
Shultz had only a passing interest in birds until, as a junior, she took a legendary course, the Natural History of Vertebrates, which has been taught since 1901 and set many a student on a career path in biology. With 13 field trips, the class is intensive, but Shultz said "it definitely changed my life." She graduated with a bachelor's in integrative biology in 2007 and is now a graduate student in evolutionary biology at Harvard University, having recently returned from a bird survey trip to Mongolia.
|Contact: Robert Sanders|
University of California - Berkeley