BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Environmental studies major Leah Bieniak ’21 and Biology major Rachel Schoenecker ’20 have been awarded multiple grants for their summer research
project: “Determining Species Abundance and Habitat Preferences of Breeding Birds
in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.”
“These grants will provide us with the resources necessary to conduct a thorough bird
survey in a large urban area, as well as run a second summer of data collection and
analysis in 2020,” Bieniak said.
George C. and Ella Beach Lewis Endowed Professor of Biology Given Harper will serve as the advisor for this project.
“Their research will provide much needed information on the relative importance of
urban areas as breeding sites for both migratory and resident birds,” Harper said.
“Recent scientific studies have indicated that urban areas are becoming increasingly
important in providing breeding habitat for birds, but few studies have determined
the actual breeding species and their habitat preferences in such areas.”
The pair of students will travel to locations around the Bloomington-Normal area that
they have selected to look for birds between sunrise and 10 a.m. Each location has
been classified as a different urban habitat based on size, type of vegetation and
human development in the area.
The project will be based on recording bird species through sight and sounds in order
to determine whether or not the birds are breeding. This will continue until the first
week of July, the end of Central Illinois’ bird breeding season. The final steps of
the project will use statistical analysis and geographic systems to see which locations
fostered the most breeding.
“I have always been a bit of a ‘bird nerd,’ and I am very interested in how humans
can protect biodiversity,” Bieniak said. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to
participate in research that will help us understand how human developments can harm
or support breeding bird species.”