We studied the possible long-term (1987 vs. 2003–2004) effects of wastewater irrigation of forests to habitat and a songbird community in central Pennsylvania. The study site, Toftrees, is a wastewater-irrigated deciduous forest interspersed with agriculture grasslands and crop fields that receives ∼260 cm of wastewater annually. Habitat variables were quantified within 15 random 0.04-ha circular plots in 2003 and 20 random plots in 1987. We conducted bird surveys twice weekly during 2003 and mist-netted birds for 1,250 hrs during 2004. Surveys and mist-netting efforts paralleled those conducted in 1987. A major decline in density of understory trees and short shrubs was noted between 1987 and 2003; in contrast, cover of herbaceous vegetation and density of tall shrubs dramatically increased. Ground-shrub foraging bird species and two mid-canopy foragers, Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) and Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens), declined from 1987 to 2003–2004. Conversely, Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) increased dramatically over this time period.
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Vol. 120 • No. 1