In 2001 avi-fauna was added as a parameter to be monitored as an indicator of the status and relative success of the two reconstructed freshwater tidal wetlands residing in the Anacostia River estuary in Washington, D.C. at that time. They were Kenilworth Marsh which was reconstructed in 1993 and Kingman Marsh seven years later in 2000. Other studies were already underway looking at vegetation, seeds, soils and contaminants. Even though these new wetlands were relatively small, together about 70 acres, it was felt this might be sufficient area to sustain and attract birds to the habitat. Birds have been used elsewhere as wetland indicators and we hoped they could prove useful here especially in terms of numbers and species richness. The study was conducted for almost four years (2001-2004) and was designed to ascertain if the recently reconstructed Kingman Marsh evolved similarly with respect to the avi fauna as Kenilworth which had the seven year head start. Twelve observation points were established, six at each marsh, which were to be used weekly so as to alternate the high and low tidal regimes and the observation start times. Additional notations were recorded for species while walking between observation points. The course of the study became interrupted with the incursion of resident Canada geese particularly upon the Kingman Marsh site. Goose herbivory coupled with lowered sediment elevations reduced vegetation cover at Kingman Marsh to less than one-third its intended scope while Kenilworth was barely affected. The result was actually much less impact on the bird populations than on the vegetation. In fact the additional mudflat area at Kingman may have actually helped attract some birds. Together 177 species were identified at the marshes comprising 14 taxonomic orders and 16 families, 137 species at Kingman and 164 at Kenilworth. However, Kingman actually attracted more birds than Kenilworth, whether or not Canada Geese were included. At both wetlands winter usage was significantly greater than at other seasons; however, there were more species in the spring and summer. Three functional guilds were looked at in particular: wetland users, freshwater marsh users and mudflat/shore users. Mudflat users were greatest during the winter while marsh users were greater in the fall. Additional useful data was collected relative to the Canada Goose impacts. The interruption in marsh evolution at Kingman driven by the goose herbivory precluded the opportunity to use the avifauna as an indicator of marsh restoration success.
Additional publication details
Avian comparisons between Kingman and Kenilworth Marshes: Final report 2001-2004