PUBLIC RELEASE: 22-DEC-2014
Future of desert birds in question
POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE
Tucson, Ariz.--A recent study suggests drought conditions are delaying nesting by two weeks or more for some Sonoran Desert bird species, such as Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and Verdins.
Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions persist in much of the southwestern U.S. Drought negatively impacts, many wildlife species, making it harder to maintain their numbers, even when adapted to a dry environment.
Newly published research from Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds that increased drought frequency in southwestern North America results in increased instances of delayed nesting. This delay can push the start of nesting back by several weeks in severe drought. This, in turn, makes it harder for many Sonoran Desert bird species to successfully produce young that year, as they are more vulnerable to nest predators and parasites.
"To understand how late the delay is, it would be like if the robins nesting in your yard, who typically begin nesting in late April, did not begin to nest until nearly Memorial Day," says Chris McCreedy, Point Blue ecologist and the study's lead author.