Generalist Versus Specialist Birds

Go to the Cornell University “All About Birds” website. Once the site loads, type in the name of one of the four birds listed and click “Go”. When the “Results” page appears, click on the picture of the bird you searched. This will take you to a page specifically for that bird. Using the tabs, look at the range map and life histories of each bird. Under the life history tab, you will find information regarding habitat, food, nesting, behavior and conservation. You will need to do this for each bird.

  • Double Crested Cormorant (Cormorants)
  • Great Blue Heron (Herons)
  • Wood Stork (Stork)
  • American Robin (Thrushes)

Using the information provided in the website, answer the following questions. If generalist/opportunistic species are widespread and more or less uniformly distributed, which of these species would you categorize as generalists and which might be specialists with narrow niche preferences or environmental tolerance ranges? Pay special attention to the species climate range, presence in densely populated areas, and evenness of their distribution throughout their range. You may want to look at the precipitation, biome, and climate maps across their range. Also, their diet also helps because a specialist eats only one or two things while a generalist may eat several different prey items. I would also suggest you do a Google search of each species to gather more information. There are right and wrong classifications on this assignment.

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