Bird Sightings in the Park Soar
Friday, May 8, 2020 7:50 AM

mallard.jpg
Mallards were the most frequently sighted species during the 2019 bird survey.

There are now far more bird species around Como Lake and the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, according to a just completed, yearlong survey. But it's uncertain how much can be credited to improved habitat.

The new bird survey, carried out by 15 community volunteers from February 2019 through January 2020, counted 109 species around the lake and 80 species in the Woodland. That's a big increase from a similar 2006 survey, which counted 84 species around the lake and 48 species in the Woodlands. Thirty-four of the lake species and 40 of the Woodland species were not spotted at all in 2006. (On the flip side, nine species at the lake and eight species in the Woodland were seen in 2006 but not in 2019.)

Como resident Mike MacDonald, who organized the latest bird survey, said results from 2006 and 2019 can't be compared directly. The areas surveyed were similar, but the latest effort had far more volunteers who recorded sightings over much broader ranges of the day, for example. That, at least in part, could explain the 30 percent increase in species around the lake and 67 percent increase in the Woodland.

Improvements in habitat also could play a role, though MacDonald says it is not possible to make a direct correlation. In the years between the surveys, Como Lake's shoreline was converted almost entirely to native vegetation, which replaced turf grass, rip rap, and invasive plants. The restoration reduced polluted runoff that reached the lake, and cut down on the dominance of harmful wildlife such as geese. The Woodland also underwent extensive work to remove invasive species, to support a more varied plant community, and to create six distinctive areas representing plant communities found in southern Minnesota.

In both locations, the highest number of species were sighted in May. But even though the locations are, at points, only about a half-mile apart, the types of species sighted were significantly different. Year-round species dominate the Woodland, while migratory species dominate the lake.

Species that were sighted regularly in 2019 that were not seen at all in 2006 include the bald eagle, bufflehead, common goldeneye, common loon, hooded merganser, pine siskin, red-tailed hawk, trumpeter swan, and house wren.

Conversely, the rock pigeon is the most notable bird that was prominent in both locations in 2006, but not seen at all in 2019.

You can download a summary of the survey, including comparison tables, from the right column. If you really want to dive into the details, you can download the spreadsheets that document each sighting.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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