Yosemite’s protected meadows, forests and mountains support 165 species of resident and migratory songbird species. As key indicators of ecosystem health, songbirds are an important focus of the park’s wildlife research efforts. By studying birds, scientists can not only learn how individual species are faring, but can also collect clues about broader environmental shifts.
Thanks in large part to support from Conservancy donors, Yosemite is home to the nation’s longest-running data set on Sierra Nevada songbirds, with research stations that have operated continuously since 1990. Over the years, donor-funded projects have enabled Yosemite biologists to conduct a wide range of research, from using GPS tags to study migration and wintering patterns of black-headed grosbeaks to exploring how the 2013 Rim Fire affected different songbird populations. Each season, Yosemite’s songbird research program also provides opportunities for volunteers and visitors of all ages, from seasonal Student Conservation Association interns to local school groups to Outdoor Adventures participants, to gain hands-on experience in songbird monitoring and conservation techniques.
Results from Yosemite’s songbird studies, which have been published in peer-reviewed publications, not only help scientists understand birds’ lives and habitats within park borders, but also inform the wider ornithological world. This well-respected donor-funded program is an important part of efforts to understand, protect and manage birds and natural resources in Yosemite and beyond.