We studied breeding bird communities in extensive bottomland hardwood forests along the lower Roanoke River in North Carolina during 1992 and 1993. We documented a rich avian community and recorded exceptionally high densities of two species (Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea, Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens), as well as modest densities of three species rarely encountered elsewhere in the region (Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea, Swainson's Warbler Limnothlypis swainsonii, American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla). The effects of patch size and edge on bird abundance were small in this forested landscape, but forest type had a large effect. We found half of the species analyzed to differ in abundance between the two primary habitat types, swamp forest and levee forest. In contrast, no species was consistently more abundant at patch interiors than near edges, and only two forest birds were more common in large compared with small patches. Species analyzed included permanent residents, short-distance migrants, Neotropical migrants, and those identified as forest-interior and area-sensitive species in other studies. Our results suggest that the Roanoke River bottomland forests may be functioning effectively as a reserve for a number of bird species.
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