Research Goals and Strategies

As we begin our research we have decided to study the nighttime bird activity and calls around grounds through a set of simple comparisons of site, consisting of altitude, tree coverage, and time of night. We have chosen two sites; the first, on top of Observatory Hill, at a high altitude with a relatively large amount of tree coverage, and the second at the bottom of the UVa Arts grounds, at one of the lowest altitudes on grounds with relatively little tree coverage.  Both sites feature building structures, but relatively low pedestrian traffic, and as a control we will be recording on nights with good weather and low amounts of cloud cover.

Our recordings will take place during the second week of April, for 2 hours just after sunset and another two hours between 2am and 4am, just before dawn. According the Monticello Bird Club, a local birding organization our group has just begun communicating with, the birds should be especially active during this time, as the primary spring migration takes place from April 15 to May 15. Also, the birds begin feeding and are most active in the early hours of the morning, especially on Observatory Hill, which is one of the Monticello Bird Clubs recommended birding sites, and where over 15 species of warblers and vireos can often be seen be seen feeding (Klotz, 2).

At this time our research is primarily focused on the amount of bird sounds heard during each time period, as this quantity corresponds to overall nighttime bird activity. However, later we would be interested to compare the activity of different bird species during these times, but we are not yet sure how capable our recording devise and computer programs are of differentiating between the sounds of different species. This information could be interesting because there is some evidence that the amount of birds as well as overall diversity of species has been decreasing in the Charlottesville area since the 1990’s (Hogg 2). The eastern Whip-poor-will, the common nighthawk, and the short eared owl are three nocturnal bird species that have been flagged by the Southern Appalachian Bird Conservancy, and Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (Watson 96).

Works Cited

Klotz, Ken, and Dave Hogg. “Observatory Mountain.” A Birder’s Guide to Charlottesville, Virginia and Vicinity. Charlottesville: Monticello Bird Club, 2003. 1-2. Print.

Watson, Keith. “Night Birds.” The Piedmont Bird Conservation Region (BCR 29) Implementation Plan. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Sevierville: ACJV, 2014. 92. Print.

Post by Christine Bauk, Second Year, Architecture