Michigan State University ornithologist Jen Owen will give a Zoom talk at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, “Health of Migrating Landbirds in the Face of a Changing Landscape: Importance of Native Plants.”
In the last 50 years, migratory bird populations have declined by almost 30 percent. Much of that loss can be attributed to habitat loss and degradation. Habitat degradation is partially attributed to the invasion of non-native plants which can impact birds throughout out their annual cycle, particularly during migration.
Migrating birds make epic flights between their breeding and wintering areas. The success of their migration relies on their ability to find places to stop along their journey where they can rest and replenish their depleted fat stores. Fruits are an important source of nutrition for migrating landbirds each fall as they fatten up for their journey south. However, non-native fruit-bearing shrubs do not offer the same nutritional benefits for birds which has consequences for their migration as well as carry-over effects on bird’s reproductive success and survival.
About Dr. Jen Owen
Associate Professor, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
Director of Michigan State Bird Observatory
Center Coordinator for Corey Marsh Ecological Research Center
Owen leads an interdisciplinary research program that addresses issues at the interface of wild bird, human, and environmental health. She and her students are currently studying how variation in habitat quality and food availability affects a bird’s health and ability to meet the demands of the migratory period. The research provides Dr. Owen the opportunity to weave her love of birds in with her love of plants. Additionally, it enables her greatest passion which is to connect people of all ages to nature through the wonder and beauty of migratory birds; with the hope that it will inspire the protection and restoration of the habitat that birds rely on throughout their annual cycle.