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Songbirds Find Success Nesting in Introduced Shrubs

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(June 10, 2015, The Condor: Ornithological Applications)—We all like things that are bad for us sometimes, and birds are no different. When a bird or other animal makes choices that are actually harmful for it, through reducing its lifespan, reproductive success, or something else, this is known as an “evolutionary trap.” Lydia Meyer of Bard College and her colleagues monitored 84 Veery (Catharus fuscescens) nests during the spring 2013 breeding season in a forest where invasive shrubs such as Japanese honeysuckle, barberry, and multiflora rose are abundant to determine whether nesting in these non-native plants poses an evolutionary trap. They recorded a variety of characteristics related to nests’ location, including nest height and visibility, the type of plant a nest was placed in, and the type of vegetation within a 5-meter radius around the nest. Their results, published this week in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, show that while these Veeries did prefer to locate their nests in non-native plants, this choice didn’t hurt their nesting success at all; instead, they were just taking advantage of a new suitable habitat. Read the full study at http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/full/10.1650/CONDOR-14-101.1.

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