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Lockdown made cities friendlier for some birds

PopSci: “When much of the world went into lockdown in the spring of 2020, traffic disappeared and pollution levels dropped. Under these conditions, dozens of bird species across North America seem to have flourished, scientists reported this week. The researchers analyzed observations from experienced bird watchers of more than 4.3 million birds representing 82 species that included songbirds, raptors, waterfowl, and more. The majority of the birds became more abundant in urban habitats during the pandemic compared with previous years and ventured closer to major roads and airports. “It’s remarkable that across the whole bird community all sorts of different species that were really very different from one another all showed these changes in habitat use,” says Nicola Koper, a conservation biologist at the University of Manitoba’s Natural Resources Institute in Winnipeg.  Recreating some of the reduced bustle that accompanied the early months of the pandemic through practices such as telecommuting would likely make cities more welcoming to birds in the future, she and her coauthors wrote on September 22 in Science Advances. Birds throughout North America are in decline, likely from a mix of factors including habitat loss, pesticide use, and declining insect populations. The study’s findings, the authors say, show that even a moderate reduction in human activity could help some species better thrive…”

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