Reduced human activity during COVID-19 alters avian land use across North America

Michael B. Schrimpf, Paulson G. Des Brisay, Alison Johnston, Adam C. Smith, Jessica Sanchez-Jasso, Barry G. Robinson, Miyako H. Warrington, Nancy A. Mahony, Andrew G. Horn, Matthew Strimas-Mackey, Lenore Fahrig, Nicola Koper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in extraordinary declines in human mobility, which, in turn, may affect wildlife. Using records of more than 4.3 million birds observed by volunteers from March to May 2017-2020 across Canada and the United States, we found that counts of 66 (80%) of 82 focal bird species changed in pandemic-altered areas, usually increasing in comparison to prepandemic abundances in urban habitat, near major roads and airports, and in counties where lockdowns were more pronounced or occurred at the same time as peak bird migration. Our results indicate that human activity affects many of North America's birds and suggest that we could make urban spaces more attractive to birds by reducing traffic and mitigating the disturbance from human transportation after we emerge from the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5073
Number of pages11
JournalScience Advances
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Reduced human activity during COVID-19 alters avian land use across North America'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this