Abundance Patterns of Landbirds in Restored and Remnant Riparian Forests on the Sacramento River, California, U.S.A.


 Address correspondence to T. Gardali, email tgardali@prbo.org


Riparian vegetation along the Sacramento River—California’s largest river—has been almost entirely lost, and several wildlife species have been extirpated or have declined as a result. Large-scale restoration efforts are focusing on revegetating the land with native plants. To evaluate restoration success, we conducted surveys of landbirds on revegetated and remnant riparian plots from 1993 to 2003. Our objectives were to estimate population trends of landbirds, compare abundance patterns over time between revegetated and remnant riparian forests, and evaluate abundance in relation to restoration age. Of the 20 species examined, 11 were increasing, 1 was decreasing (Lazuli Bunting [Passerina amoena]), and 8 showed no trend. The negative trend for Lazuli Bunting is consistent with information on poor reproductive success and with Breeding Bird Survey results. There was no apparent guild association common to species with increasing trends. Nine species were increasing on revegetated and remnant plots, four were increasing on revegetated plots only, three were increasing on remnant plots only, the Lazuli Bunting was decreasing on both, and three species were stable on both. Although many species were increasing at a faster rate on revegetated plots, their abundance did not reach that of the remnant plots. For revegetated plots, “year since planting” was a strong predictor of abundance trends for 13 species: positive for 12, negative for 1. Our study shows that restoration activities along the Sacramento River are successfully providing habitat for a diverse community of landbirds and that results from bird monitoring provide a meaningful way to evaluate restoration success.