Urban fieldwork

On urban fieldwork

Jokingly, when describing my plans go into the field, I often find myself putting in quotations the word field. “Field”work.

Why?

My “field”work currently consists of driving from location to location in urban areas to conduct point counts. Having had the opportunity to conduct similar fieldwork in fairly natural settings, like the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station, the excitement of counting birds in the city wears thin during daily pockets of inactivity. This is especially true when my target species, or any species for that matter, are undetected.

Although conducting simple point counts in the city is often boring (relative to counting and observing many species in the forest) the bursts of excitement that occur when either my target species or an interesting competitor species is seen is worth these bouts of non-entertainment.

Payoff?

Having a plethora of point count data to answer (or not) our research question: Are House Sparrows in Gainesville: (a) limited to highly urbanized habitat and/or (b) absent (or rarely occurring) in residential areas?

So far, both (a) and (b) have a preliminary “yes”. <– This is worth the early-morning-boring-point-count ritual I am currently undertaking.

Residential Areas in Gainesville are sometimes quite beautiful.

I prefer the non-manicured lawns of resident naturalists, bird-lovers, and the “landscape-lazies”, but many of my residential point count circles were randomly assigned to yards and neighborhoods opposite of this. Picture-perfect lawns. White-picket fences. Hedgerows. Lawn mowers. Lawn mowers. Lawn.mowers.

There’s nothing like listening to the sounds created by the hired landscaping help early to mid-morning in these fairly affluent neighborhoods while attempting to listen for singing and calling birds. Despite these soundscape annoyances, conducting point counts in these types of neighborhoods can be quite refreshing, compared to the car-and-human-filled parking lots of urban point counts.

Most Gainesville neighborhoods I have visited strictly for point counts this summer have been fairly diverse in avian species, despite the manicured lawns and lack of native shrubbery.

Finale I suppose this blog had no cohesive theme, other than being a place to (a) positively (but underhandedly negatively) vent my frustrations with doing point counts in the city and (b) to inform you, my friends, of what I have been up to in the “field” this summer.

Written on August 20, 2014