Growing numbers of backyard wildlife enthusiasts share the opinion that they are not seeing as many birds visiting their backyard feeders during the winter as they did in years past. It is a widely accepted fact that the total numbers of North American birds have declined dramatically in recent decades. However, other factors may also be having a deleterious impact on the numbers of birds that winter in the Georgia. The results of a recently completed study published in Conservation Biology identified one possible reason for birds apparently altering their migration patterns.

       Accord to the study’s lead author Anne-Sophie Bonnet-Lebrun, “This showed that urbanization can have an effect on migratory behavior of birds.”  

       This conclusion was reached after analyzing banding data involving 12 partially migratory species. These species may or may not migrate every year. The researchers found that, of the species banded, the European starling, American Goldfinch, evening grosbeak, and purple finch were the birds that would most likely winter within the breeding range. However, urbanization increases the likelihood that common grackles, European starlings, house finches, and white-throated sparrows will also remain in their breeding areas too.

       The researchers suggest that warmer temperatures, coupled with food availability provided by the presence of bird feeders, and other foods found within urban areas offer birds ideal places to winter.

       Further research is needed to determine if urban areas are affecting the migratory patterns of other bird species.

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