Date: October 19, 2017
Source: Virginia Tech
A new study aimed to identify characteristics that promote healthy wood thrush populations on US Department of Defense land.
Before cutting down forest, land managers in drought prone areas might first consider the birds in the trees.
According to a new study by biologists at Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, the offspring of a certain songbird, the wood thrush, are more likely to survive drought in larger forest plots that offer plenty of shade and resources.
These results were published Oct. 18 in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, a journal of the American Ornithological Society.
Wood thrush are common to the United States, but populations have declined by more than 60 percent since the 1960s. In addition, many species of songbirds, such as blue jays, robins, and cardinals, as well as wood thrush, face the highest risk of dying within the first five days of leaving their nests.
A team of Smithsonian biologists led by Brandt Ryder worked closely with Ben Vernasco, a doctoral candidate in biology at Virginia Tech, on a study that aimed to identify characteristics that promote healthy wood thrush populations on U.S. Department of Defense land. Vernasco specifically worked to determine the factors affecting wood thrush survival during the post-fledgling period -- the stage lasting about 21 days until baby birds become independent.