Pioneering Urban Bird Research

The Rouge River Bird Observatory was established in 1992 to explore an understudied yet increasingly critical area of research: the importance of urban natural areas to birds. In our rapidly urbanizing world, habitat fragments in metropolitan areas become more critical to birds. Understanding how birds use them is essential for conservation.

While our active research projects have been discontinued, the primary focus of RRBO was to better understand the importance of urban areas as migratory stopover sites for birds. For many bird species, migrations are crucial times in the annual cycle, and events during these periods can have great influence on their populations. Birds traveling thousands of miles on their way to or from breeding and wintering sites need safe places to stop and refuel. Increasingly, they encounter urban areas. Yet little long-term research has been done to determine how birds use urban habitats during migration, whether urban migratory stopovers provide adequate resources, and what resources are most important.

The unique location on the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s campus, with its 300-acre mixed-habitat Environmental Study Area, is an ideal place to  visit to see many resident species as well as spring and fall migrants.



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