Spatial variation in wintering bird communities in different types of urban residential areas is poorly understood. The objective of tills study was to find out which bird species from the regional species pool are able to inhabit residential areas, whether bird communities in different types of residential area differ from one another, and what are the factors affecting birds. We conducted our study in five apartment-building areas, five family-house areas, and five villages in northern Finland by using the single-visit study plot method during five winters, i.e. 1998/1999–2003/2004. Oldgrowth-forest-specialist species, in particular, avoided residential areas, whereas the other species appeared to benefit from residential development. The species richness, the total number of individuals, and the abundance of most of the species were higher in the family-house areas and in villages than in apartment-building areas. The proportion of individuals belonging to resident species was higher in the apartment-building areas than in the other habitats, whereas the proportion of individuals belonging to feeding-table species was higher in the villages than in the other habitats. The species richness and the total number of individuals increased with the increasing number of feeding tables and decreased with increasingly larger proportions of apartment buildings within the study plot. Parus montanus, P. major, P. caeruleus, Passer domesticus, and Carduelis flammea benefitted from feeding tables. Our study demonstrated that carefully planned winter feeding programmes can enhance the wintering possibilities for birds, and thus promote the biodiversity in urban ecosystems at northern latitudes.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4