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Monday, January 25 • 10:40am - 11:00am
The Role of Cities In Facilitating American Goldfinch Spinus Tristis Overwintering At High Latitudes

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AUTHORS: Corrie Navis*, Eastern Michigan University; Peter Bednekoff, Eastern Michigan University

ABSTRACT: Winter habitat use by birds that overwinter at northern latitudes is not yet well understood. How do partial migrant species survive harsh winters at the northern limits of their winter distribution? We explored this question through a study of American goldfinches Spinus tristis. We hypothesized that with increasing latitude the proportion of S. tristis overwintering in cities would increase, as the birds take advantage of supplemental food sources provided by bird feeders. We conducted 300 surveys of S. tristis at 50 randomly selected sites throughout the latitudinal extent of Michigan in winter and early spring of 2015. Our results showed an overall decrease in S. tristis detection with increasing latitude, but no clear interaction between latitude and urban/rural distribution. This indicated that S. tristis are not highly dependent on urban feeders in winter. To examine how the findings of our random, standardized census differ from the trends indicated by other records, we analyzed our results against bird sightings submitted to the eBird database by volunteer citizen scientists. Initial analyses suggest that latitudinal correlation with urban S. tristis presence indicated by such data sets may be an artifact of higher reporting in urban areas.

Monday January 25, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am EST