The effect of human activity on birds at a coastal bay

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I examined the direct and indirect effects of human activity on birds at a coastal bay refuge along the Atlantic Coast. Over the year, human activity varied at different sample sites on the refuge, but people were present on part of the refuge every day, although activity was concentrated on designated paths around a freshwater pond and at a fishing pier. On the refuge (exclusive of the ponds) people were present at the sample sites 17% of the time, birds were present 42% of the time when people were present, but birds were present 72% of the time when people were absent. Human activities, such as jogging or grass mowing, which involved rapud movement or close proximity to roosting birds, usually caused them to flush. Slow-walking bird watchers and clammers did not usually cause birds to flush. Gulls and terns were least affected as they usually relanded where they had been, ducks usually flushed and flew to the centre of the pond, and herons, egrets and shorebirds were most disturbed and flushed to distant marshes. These results suggest that if management objectives include providing roosting areas for migrating shorebirds then some areas must be protected from close and fast-moving human activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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