New Suburbs Attract New Wildlife

Around Puget Sound, the spreading suburban fringe is changing the types of birds that live in those areas, pushing some out and attracting others. 'It's a change in who's top,' says a local biologist.
December 9, 2008, 10am PST | Tim Halbur
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"By tracking 27 research plots on the suburban fringe of King and Snohomish counties over eight years, researchers found development brings not necessarily extinction but replacement, with new native species colonizing the suburban environments that used to be forests.

Researchers did something no one in this region has done before: They looked not only at local bird populations, but also at which birds were surviving and reproducing over time, leading to a change in the structure of the local bird community.

"It's a change in who's top," said biologist John Marzluff, who led the study.

In more places, he sees more birds of the edge and the open - juncos were booming in his research plots - while birds that take cover in thickets of native understory and forest canopy, such as winter wrens and Swainson's thrushes, were in decline. 'The habitat changed,' Marzluff said. 'The birds can tell the story.'"

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Published on Monday, December 8, 2008 in The Seattle Times
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