Spatial patterns of seasonal distribution of Corvidae (the case of urban habitats)
AbstractCorvids in Zhytomyr city reach maximum density in the winter period. Rooks and Eurasian Jackdaws were the most abundant species in winter, usually feeding in multispecies flocks and forming collective roosts.Suburban green areas (buffer zones) were characterized by a considerably high diversity of Corvidae species: this habitat was occupied by all six species. We also registered the highest density of Eurasian Jays and Hooded Crows in this habitat. The green areas in the city center were also characterized by significant corvid density, especially during the breeding season. The maximum breeding density of Rooks was in these habitats, which held 6 of 12 identified urban colonies in Zhytomyr. We found that the European Magpies, Eurasian Jays, and Hooded Crows also had high breeding success here. Eurasian Jackdaws occurred here only in autumn and winter, when they fed together with Rooks on lawns, gardens, and parks. With stable snow cover the Rook density in habitats of the green areas decreased due to the depletion of food resources.The individual buildings zone of the city were characterized by the lowest density of all corvid species, except for European Magpies and Eurasian Jays. The number of common species (Rooks, Eurasian Jackdaws, and Hooded Crows) was low because of shortage of food resources, lack of sites for large roosting flocks and shortage of suitable nesting sites. However, Eurasian Magpies reached one of their highest densities in this habitat (12.8 birds/km2). This species was registered in habitats around private buildings all the year round, successfully nesting in the yards of private houses and on trees in the streets. Its breeding density was 11.2 birds/km2.During three years of research (2009–2012) the density of all corvids except for European Magpie, practically did not change, although we determined a slight positive trend for all the species. The strong increase in the number of Eurasian Jackdaws could be explained by the increasing density of wintering populations or due to the increasing number of migrants from more northern regions.
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