Urban Ecosystems

, 12:487 | Cite as

Avian use of suburban greenways as stopover habitat

  • Salina M. Kohut
  • George R. HessEmail author
  • Christopher E. Moorman


Greenways may provide stopover habitat for migrating birds in otherwise inhospitable suburban landscapes. We examined the effect of greenway forested corridor width, vegetation composition and structure, and adjacent land cover on the species richness and abundance of migrating songbirds during spring and fall migration in Raleigh and Cary, North Carolina, USA. Generally, migrating birds were more abundant in wider forest corridors during spring and fall migration. During the spring, migrants were detected more commonly in greenways with taller trees and a higher percentage of hardwood trees. In the fall, migrant richness and abundance was highest in greenways with lower canopy cover, possibly because of the increased vertical complexity of the vegetation at these sites. Forest-interior migrant richness was not correlated with corridor width in either season, but these species were more abundant in greenways bordered by less bare earth and pavement cover in the spring. No other bird groupings were correlated with adjacent land cover measures. Although migrants used greenways of all widths, forested corridors wider than 150 m should be conserved whenever possible to provide stopover habitat for forest-interior migrants. Shrub cover should be retained to maintain vegetative complexity. Habitat for the greatest diversity of migrants can be provided by constructing greenways in areas of lower development intensity and encouraging residents to retain shrubs and trees on properties bordering greenways.


Greenways Migration Neotropical migrants Stopover Urbanization 



Marcia Gumpertz provided valuable assistance with the statistical analysis. Ted Simons provided advice throughout the study and reviewed an earlier version of the manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers provided valuable feedback. The City of Raleigh, the Town of Cary, and William B. Umstead State Park allowed generous access to their lands; Wake County GIS, City of Raleigh GIS, and Town of Cary GIS furnished the geographic data; and Nathan Tarr assisted in conducting avian surveys. The USDA Forest Service and the North Carolina State University Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources provided financial support for the project. Thanks to all.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salina M. Kohut
    • 3
  • George R. Hess
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher E. Moorman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Environmental ResourcesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry and Environmental ResourcesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.CaryUSA

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