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Population Status of the Eastern Phoebe in South-Central North Carolina: Breeding Increase at Water-Based Anthropogenic Sites Congruent with Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Christmas Bird Count (CBC) Data

McNair, Douglas B.
Southeastern naturalist 2016 v.15 no.2 pp. 299-341
Phoebe, birds, breeding, culverts, data collection, national surveys, nesting sites, nests, North Carolina
Few studies in southeastern North America have compared local data sets to locally based results from 2 national surveys (North American breeding bird survey [BBS], Christmas bird count [CBC]). In 2012, I reexamined nest-site type use and nest type of Sayornis phoebe (Eastern Phoebe) at 109 water-based anthropogenic structures originally studied in south-central North Carolina in 1981. In 2012, Eastern Phoebes still strongly preferred breeding at small bridges with ledges, especially at the same structures where I studied them in 1981, even though use of other nest-site types slightly increased except at circular culverts, where no Eastern Phoebes nested. During the 31-year interval between studies, ∼1/3rd of the bridges (20 of 62; 32%) were replaced with structures less favorable as nest-sites; thus, a lower number and proportion of small bridges with ledges were available in 2012. Although breeding Eastern Phoebes are still slowly increasing in abundance at water-based anthropogenic sites in south-central North Carolina, I project that this population will reach zero growth in 2027 as replacement of small bridges with ledges by other structures continues. The findings from this local water-based anthropogenic nest-site survey in south-central North Carolina was congruent with results from 2 national surveys (BBS, CBC) in a portion of the Pee Dee region in documenting a modest increase in the number of Eastern Phoebes during a time span ranging over 30 years.