Powell Butte Prairie Nesting Bird Pub Talk

Written by Sara Volk

Tom Virzi, from Conservation InSight, presented the 2023 Powell Butte Prairie Nesting Bird Survey data during last month’s pub talk at Double Mountain Brewery. With only 1% of the Willamette Valley prairie grassland habitat remaining, restoring this habitat in the Willamette Valley is important for ground nesting birds. After construction disturbance to the grassland area in the park, staff at Powell Butte Nature Park (PBNP) replanted native vegetation and established mowing schedules to favor conditions for prairie grasslands and nesting.

Through JCWC’s community science program, in partnership with Tom Virzi, volunteers have collected data on the overall land bird community at PBNP. This information is used to study the impacts of the restoration project on the prairie nesting bird populations. The study uses Savannah Sparrow counts as a proxy for healthy habitat conditions.  Following construction, as expected, the breeding population was down because of less mature grasslands lacking diversity that comes through succession. This is further complicated by the Savannah Sparrow’s tendency for site fidelity when choosing a nesting area.

The 2024 Powell Butte Prairie Nesting Bird Surveys will continue through June. This information will indicate how the Savannah Sparrow population is responding a few years post construction. Are we seeing population growth with the young returning? Is the diversity and populations of birds increasing? This is all information that will help guide future habitat restoration efforts at PBNP. Read more at Conservation InSight about the impact of restoration on birds at PBNP.

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