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Forest Birds

Climate Change Indicator

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Forest birds, which are indicators of forest health, are on the decline.


new data available graohic


The combined nesting populations of eight species of birds that typically inhabit mature forestBlue Winged Warblers 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). In 2019, the Journal Science reported on a study that estimated a decline in North American bird populations approaching 30 percent over 84 years.

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.

Ruffed Grouse population continues to decline too.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse populations have decreased significantly over the past 20 years. Ruffed grouse are an excellent indicator species for New England hardwood-dominated forested landscapes. The most likely cause of reduced grouse population is a decline in young forests, the effects of human activities including roads, development (fragmentation), the introduction of invasive species and pests, and reduction of vegetation favored by grouse. A similar decline in the ruffed grouse population has also been documented by DEEP from actual observations by turkey hunters over a 10-year period. 


Goal: The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies prepared a plan in 2006 that set a target of restoring the ruffed grouse throughout North America to 1980 population levels by 2025.

Technical Notes: * The Council calculates index values (using advice from statistics experts) to show the combined population trends of several species. The Connecticut Forestlands Council Forest Ecosystem Health Committee developed a list of Avian Forest Health Indicator Species that "can be used as indicators in identifying both positive and negative areas of forest ecosystem health." New data for forest bird species for 2019 added July 6, 2020.