Residential yards comprise a substantial portion of urban landscapes, and the collective effects of the management of many individual yards may "scale up" to affect urban biodiversity. We conducted bird surveys and social surveys in Chicago-area (Illinois, USA) residential neighborhoods to identify the relative importance of yard design and management activities for native birds. We found that groups of neighboring yards, in the aggregate, were more important for native bird species richness than environmental characteristics at the neighborhood or landscape scale. The ratio of evergreen to deciduous trees in yards and the percentage of yards with trees and plants with fruits or berries were positively associated with native bird species richness, whereas the number of outdoor cats had a negative association. The number of birdfeeders was not an important predictor for native species richness. We also found that migratory birds were observed on transects with more wildlife-friendly features in yards, and nonnative birds were observed on transects with greater numbers of outdoor cats and dogs. Our results highlight the potential importance of residential matrix management as a conservation strategy in urban areas.
Belaire, J. A., Whelan, C. J., & Minor, E. S. (2014). Having our yards and sharing them too: the collective effects of yards on native bird species in an urban landscape. Ecological Applications, 24(8), 2132--2143. https://doi.org/10.1890/13-2259.1