Woodland birds went down to the crossroads

Whether you’ve fallen down on your knees, tried to flag a ride, or simply been standin’ there (baby) watchin’ the risin’ sun goin’ down….there’s heaps to do at the crossroads! Anyone up for some good-ol-fashioned soul selling? Devil said he’ll make ya play guitar real good

You could also go down to the crossroad to check out the birds. See how they’re using these patches of vegetation in an otherwise cleared landscape. Linear strips of vegetation along roadsides are likely to be important habitat, and there’s a lot more going on at crossroads compared to any old point on the road. Should promote some threatened woodland bird species right?

That’s what Mark and the other delta blues singers thought. They packed up their guitars and binos, stratified their observations by site location (crossroads vs linear strips), and counted some birds (they also collected a whole bunch data on other variables – tree size, amount of vegetation close to sites, presence of aggressive birds).

So here’s the short answer to the question are woodland birds selling their souls at the crossroads? Hell Yeah! – especially when larger trees were present. However, what was really determining where woodland birds were occurring in the landscape was …. drumroll please …. that’s right, you guessed it, everybody’s favourite, the noisy miner

The aggressive brats of the avian community. Nevertheless, those woodland birds still dig those crossroads as they facilitate movement and offer greater means of escape.

For the actual science of this story, you should definitely read the paper (it’s open access) and contact the authors if you have any questions

Hall M, Nimmo D & Bennett AF (2016) At the crossroads: does the configuration of roadside vegetation affect woodland bird communities in rural landscapes? PloS ONE 11: e0155219.

K!E#18 by Luke S. O’Loughlin


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