Determination of land use practices responsible for the presence of the brown-headed cowbird on the White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

McLellan, Toni M.
Meade Cadot
Department of Environmental Studies
Recent research indicates that populations of certain bird species; those which migrate long distances to winter in the neotropics, are declining. A concern which has been raised is the role that the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) plays in the declines. The traditional habitat of the cowbird is that of open areas; fields and agriculture. However, management practices which create openings in forested areas create potential cowbird habitat. This paper addresses the question of what type of habitat on the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and adjacent rural and urban areas is utilized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. In order to accomplish this, a breeding bird survey was conducted, followed by the development of a habitat classification system. The two aspects of the study were correlated. Research results indicate the general absence of cowbirds in a forested environment and the presence of the cowbirds in non-forested habitat.

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