And so it begins

Proof that my research may be heading in the right direction. Here a female bluebird is about to deliver a spider to her hungry chicks at one of the houses I surveyed at.Proof that my research may be heading in the right direction. Here a female bluebird is about to deliver a spider to her hungry chicks at one of the houses I surveyed.

Unfortunately for my summer roommate who studies Endangered Species Act policy decisions my day begins at 5am sharp. Between his ear plugs and my torpor-strength sleep qualities we are making things work. Once I set foot outdoors for my first count of the morning just after sunrise I begin my work to find a much more desirable compromise free of irksome foam inserts.

As I lay out in my first post the goal of my research is to explore the link between birds, landscaping and housing prices. Such a link has the potential to create a win-win for birds and anyone selling a house in suburbia. Were my research to demonstrate such a link developers and homeowners alike would be incentivized to make decisions that positively impact the birds that live, or may live, on their properties.

Lofty goals and high hopes like these do not come from crunching numbers and reading papers, well they do partially at least, but from getting out into the heart of suburbia early in the mornings to survey birds. As I mentioned above, my surveys begin a few minutes after sunrise and continue to about 10am when the avian activity dies down with the heat and humidity of the Williamsburg summer. I have picked out just over 50 neighborhoods in the greater Williamsburg area to survey. These neighborhoods may be in York or James City County or in the City of Williamsburg. Neighborhoods are chosen because they contain a large number of houses sold since 2012. I will survey three randomly chosen, recently sold houses in each neighborhood that are sufficiently distant from each other so as to not share the same individual birds. Each house will then be surveyed three times to assure that I find the closest to the actual number of species at each site. An eight-minute survey is bound to miss some species each time it is applied, which is why it must be replicated.

The surveys themselves have been going quite well and thankfully all of my encounters with neighborhood residents have been constructive and non-affrontive.