Birds in the shaded forests
A project is underway in the Llaberia mountain range and other natural areas in Catalonia, to preserve yew trees and their habitat. The members of this project are the Technological Forestry Centre of Catalonia and in Terres de l’Ebre, the Llaberia Mountain Range Committee and Rasquera Town-hall, and it is being financed by the European Commission through the LIFE+ programme.
Different action is being taken, of which one area is to evaluate the role of birds as dispersers of seeds from trees such as the yew (Taxus baccata), holly (Ilex aquifolium), whitebeam (Sorbus aria) and the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). This research is being carried out within the framework of the TAXUS project, and its main aim to significantly improve the knowledge and preservation of yew trees in Catalonia. This is a LIFE programme financed by the European Commission. For more information go to www.taxus.cat
To evaluate the role of birds as good dispersers, a study of the Llaberia yew trees bird community has been carried out during the weeks when the yew trees bear most fruit. There were 11 listening stations of 10 minutes, separated by more than 500m in areas with a lot of yew trees and 7 listening stations in nearby forest areas without yew trees. In this way it was possible to evaluate the difference in abundance of birds present and of species which could probably be dispersers.
Shown as follows are the species which have been detected and which form a diverse community. Among them are the song thrush (Turdus philomelos), blackbird (Turdus merula), European robin (Erithacus rubecula), Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) and possibly the common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and great tit (Parus major). This is a list of all of the species observed.
|Common chaffinch||Fringilla coelebs||Low-disperser||I-XII|
|Red crossbill||Loxia curvirostra||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Common serín||Serinus serinus||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|European robin||Erithacus rubecula||Medium- disperser||I-XII|
|Common firecrest||Regulus ignicapilla||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Common linnet||Carduelis cannabina||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Eurasian jay||Garrulus glandarius||Medium-disperser||I-XII|
|Meadow pipit||Anthus pratensis||Solely migratory||X-IV|
|Water pipit||Anthus spinoletta||Solely migratory||X-IV|
|European goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Blackbird||Turdus merula||Medium disperser||I-XII|
|European greenfinch||Chloris chloris||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Short-toed treecreeper||Certhia brachydactyla||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Song thrush||Turdus philomelos||High disperser||X-IV|
|Great tit||Parus major||Low disperser||I-XII|
|White wagtail||Motacilla alba||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Eurasian siskin||Carduelis spinus||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|European crested tit||Lophophanes cristatus||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Eurasian wren||Troglodytes troglodytes||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Eurasian blue tit||Parus caeruleus /
|Common chiffchaff||Phylloscopus collybita||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Common wood pigeon||Columba palumbus||Medium disperser||I-XII|
|Coal tit||Parus ater
|Long-tailed tit||Aegithalos caudatus||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Wood lark||Lullula arborea||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Brambling||Fringilla montifringilla||Low disperser||IX-III|
|Common raven||Corvus corax||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Eurasian green woodpecker||Picus viridis||Non-disperser||I-XII|
|Tree pipit||Anthus trivialis||Solely migratory||III-X|
These are all quite common species and can be observed throughout the year, although the best times to watch them are in the spring and autumn.
The role of carnivores as dispersers should also be mentioned, especially the Beech marten (Martes foina), and the Common genet (Geneta genetta), which could be significant and even as important as that of the birds.