San Diego Management & Monitoring Program


Least Bell's Vireos and Southwestern Willow Flycatchers at the San Luis Rey River Flood Control Proj

Type: report

Article abstract: Surveys for the endangered least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) were conducted at the San Luis Rey River Flood Control Project area in the city of Oceanside, San Diego County, California, between 1 April and 15 July 2007. Three protocol surveys were conducted during the breeding season and supplemented by weekly territory monitoring visits. One hundred and eight least Bell's vireo territorial males were identified; all but three males were paired. The vireo population in the project area declined by 9% (11 territories) from 2006, the largest drop observed in five years. Overall there was a net increase of five territories in the channel where exotic and native vegetation removal has occurred (Treated) and a net loss of 16 territories in the Untreated sites where vegetation removal will not occur (Untreated), suggesting that factors other than vegetation removal may have contributed to the 2007 decline. Factors contributing to the vireo decline may include drier conditions, reduced habitat quality, and human disturbance. The majority of vireo territories (70%) occurred in habitat characterized as Willow Riparian. Ten percent of birds occupied habitat co-dominated by willows (Salix spp.) and cottonwoods (Populus fremontii), and 20% of territories were found in Riparian Scrub, dominated by mule fat (Baccharis salicifolia) and/or sandbar willow (S. exigua). Most vireo territories (63%) were established in habitat where 50 to 95% of the vegetation cover was native species while 37% of the territories were in habitat vegetated almost entirely (>95%) by native species. Giant reed (Arundo donax) was the most common exotic species within territories followed by black mustard (Brassica nigra), poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) and tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima). Nesting activity was monitored in 97 territories. Pair success from both treatments was comparable; 82% (50/61) of Treated pairs vs. 87% (27/31) of Untreated pairs were successful in fledging young from at least one nest. Nest success (number of nests fledging at least one young/total number of nests found) of pairs breeding in the channel (Treated) did not differ statistically from that of pairs breeding in the Untreated sites (49%; 60/122 vs. 59%; 32/54). Successful and failed nests within Treated and Untreated sites did not differ statistically in average nest height, height of the host plant, or the distance the nest was placed from the edge of the host plant. Eighty to ninet

Number of pages: 86

Authors: Kus, Barbara; Ferree, Kimberly;

Year: 2008

Publisher: U.S. Geological Survey

Prepared for: Dodero, Mark;

Prepared by: USGS; Ferree, Kimberly; Kus, Barbara;

Keywords: flood control; least Bell's Vireo; southwestern willow flycatcher; USGS; willow flycatcher;

Species: Least Bell's vireo; Southwestern willow flycatcher