If wildlife habitat can be part of a project, before designing and constructing, play around with Building for Birds. This new online tool helps users evaluate how development design impacts forest birds. Put together by the University of Florida, Building for Birds is designed to help decision makers understand how their decisions impact bird habitat. Studies have shown that forest fragments or even individual trees can provide bird habitat, especially for overwintering or migrating birds. Some forest birds are also benefited.
Mark Hostetler and his team at the University of Florida developed Building for Birds by sifting through about 7,000 research papers to build an evidence-based tool. The website is easy to use and allows creation of multiple scenarios that can be compared side-by-side to easily see how one set of development parameters compare to other sets in terms of bird habitat. The user can change inputs such as developed area, canopy cover, and others to see a relative value of the land for use as bird habitat. The user can pick the scenario that maximizes habitat value.
Building for Birds calculates scores for three habitat categories: 1) breeding/wintering habitat, 2) stopover habitat during migration and 3) as breeding or stopover habitat in residential areas with trees.
The tool analyzes forest birds (Passeriformes) and woodpeckers (Piciformes). There’s a YouTube video showcasing Building for Birds, how it was developed and how to use it.
The development team sifted through thousands of research papers to hone on several hundred most applicable. The studies that were included to build the tool were restricted to United States and Canada. The great effort resulting in an evidence based list that consolidates hundreds of scientific studies in one location.The bird species list developed from the findings is a great free standing contribution. It shows which birds are able to use city forest fragments or residential areas with canopy for breeding or migration stopover.
If you’ve got a project that’s an acre or more, before you design, take some time to play around with Building for Birds.
The Nature of Cities
NewTerrain January 16, 2017.