Forest birds, which are indicators of forest health, are on the decline.
The combined nesting populations of eight species of birds that typically inhabit mature forests and five species of shrubland birds that typically inhabit forests that are young or dominated by shrubby vegetation, sometimes known as "shrublands", has declined over the last 15 years.* As the amount of young forest and shrubland habitat has declined in Connecticut, so have the wildlife species dependent on it. Most of the mature-forest bird species are affected greatly by fragmentation. Predators, invasive species, overpopulating deer and human activities follow roads and other intrusions into the forests and cause nesting success to falter. The true forest birds, those that are not adapted to disturbed roadside or suburban habitat, will succeed in the long term only in forests that are not fragmented (i.e. core forests). Nationally, it is estimated that there has been a net loss of 2.9 billion breeding birds since 1970. Approximately 63.5 percent of Eastern forest avifauna, which is comprised of 63 species, are in decline.50
Historic data indicate that the composition of Connecticut's songbird population is changing. Songbirds that prefer warmer climates are increasing at a faster rate than cold-adapted songbird species. Warm-climate adapted songbirds have increased more than cold-adapted songbirds, which had a modest increase since 1984, but a decline in recent years.**51
Goal: The goal for a variety of landbird species identified in the Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan 2016 is to prevent further decline, stabilize populations in the short-term, and then reclaim a portion of their populations within 30 years.
Technical Notes: *The Council calculates index values (using advice from statistics experts) to show the combined population trends of several species (for mature forest birds: Hairy Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Black-and-white Warbler, Veery, Ovenbird; for bird species that typically inhabit forests that are young or dominated by shrubby vegetation: American Redstart, Blue-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and Yellow Warbler. **The CEQ Index is used to assess the presence and abundance of a total of eighteen warm-climate adapted and cold-climate adapted songbird species.
51 U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, North American Breeding Bird Survey; www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/.