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Scholars Day 2007, Wednesday, April 11

An Analysis of Harris’s Sparrow Population Trends

The Harris’s Sparrow is a relatively large finch that breeds exclusively in northern Canada and winters in the Central Plains of the United States. Winter Harris’s Sparrow populations have experienced a significant population decline of 1.8% / yr between 1965/1966 and 2002/2003, according to Christmas Bird Count data. This downward trend has resulted in a decline of ≥ 50 % over the last 30 years. The purpose of this study is to evaluate Harris’s Sparrow population abundance in its wintering habitat prior to the time when Christmas Bird Count data became widely available. To do this, a method developed for the declining Rusty Blackbird was used. This involved determining how qualitative, historical accounts prior to 1950 refer to Harris’s Sparrow abundance, as either abundant, common, uncommon, or rare. Although this method will not produce quantitative estimates of Harris’s Sparrow abundance prior to 1950, it can provide useful information on the population trends for the species.

Presenter: Levi Atwater (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Environmental Science
Location: 104 Edwards
Time: 1:30 pm (Session III)