Breeding bird biology at Lake Laurel Research Station

In general, the more diverse an avian community is, the more healthy and resilient that community is to environmental changes and greater diversity is associated with high-quality resources and successful reproduction in a short breeding season (April – September). However, several factors can reduce avian reproductive success, including habitat loss and fragmentation, changing climatic conditions and weather patterns, and nest predation and parasitism by other animals.  Determining the impact of these factors on nesting and reproductive success is essential to ensure adequate population sizes and an optimally functioning ecosystem.

The habitat at the Lake Laurel research station on Georgia College’s east campus has the potential to provide suitable breeding habitat and migration stopover resources for a rich avian community, yet we currently have scant records about resident or migratory birds that use this habitat. However, habitat conditions and bird sightings in nearby areas and habitats indicate that the area considered species of special concern with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgia State Department of Natural Resources, or the national Audubon Society including: Black-throated blue Warbler, Wood Thrush, Canada Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Golden-wing Warbler, Little Blue Heron, Prothonotary Warbler, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Blue-wing Warbler, and Prairie Warbler.

Research objectives:

  1. Identify migratory and breeding species
  2. Monitor breeding productivity within and across seasons, per species, per individual
  3. Determine species’ population size, health, and growth patterns
  4. Assess habitat suitability based on reproductive success, population size, nest density, and physical condition of resident species
  5. Quantify annual return rates
  6. Identify causes of nest failures

Research Methodology


We are conducting point counts during spring and fall migration and during the breeding season.  We are also monitoring all active nests and determining their success and number of offspring. At the conclusion of the breeding season, we will take vegetation measurements at all nest sites, regardless of their success to determine what habitat factors, if any, are related to nest outcome.