USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Managing Habitat for Grassland Birds
A Guide for Wisconsin



Table 5.  Habitat feature preferences of the 26 grassland bird species of management concern.a
  Height-density of
Herbaceous Vegetation
c
Litter Layerd Cover of Standing
Residual Vegetation
e
Grass:forb
ratio
f
Cover of
Bare Ground

Grassland Species Groups b short
(<15 cm)
medium
(15-35 cm)
tall
(>35 cm)
       

SHORTGRASS SPECIES
Vesper sparrow x (x)   low low medium high
Grasshopper sparrow x (x)   medium medium medium medium
Upland sandpiper x (x)   medium medium medium medium
Western meadowlark x (x)   medium low medium medium

MIDGRASS SPECIES
Savannah sparrow (x) x (x) medium low medium low
Eastern meadowlark (x) x (x) high medium medium medium
Bobolink (x) x (x) medium medium medium medium
Dickcissel (x) x (x) medium medium low medium

TALLGRASS SPECIES
Le Conte's sparrow   (x) x high high? high? low
Yellow rail     x high high high? low
Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow     x high high high? low
Henslow's sparrow     (x) x high high high low
Sedge wren   (x) x high high high low

SPECIES REQUIRING WOODY VEGETATION OR OTHER NESTING STRUCTURE
Loggerhead shrike x (x)   medium? low? medium? low?
Bell's vireo (x) x? (x) medium medium? ? low
Clay-colored sparrow (x) x   high medium medium medium
Field sparrow (x) x (x) high medium high medium
Lark sparrow x     low low high high
Brewer's blackbird x (x)   low low high high

SPECIES REQUIRING OPEN WATER
Blue-winged teal (x) x (x) medium low high? low
Wilson's phalarope   x (x) high medium high? low

SPECIES REQUIRING LARGE AREAS (AREA-SENSITIVE)
Northern harrier (x)i (x) x medium medium medium? medium
Greater prairie-chicken x j x (x) medium? high? high? medium?
Sharp-tailed grouse x j x x medium? high? medium? medium?
Barn owl x   x x medium? medium? ? low?
Short-eared owl (x)i (x) x high high high? low


Table 5.  Continued.
    Woody Vegetation Preferred Wetland Features
(* = required)
Minimum Area Requirements f

Grassland Species Groups b Type % Cover g
  low
(<25
acres)
medium
(25-250
acres)
high
(>250
acres)
none low
(>0-5%)
medium
(5-30%)

SHORTGRASS SPECIES
Vesper sparrow trees/shrubs (x) x (x)   x? x?  
Grasshopper sparrow   x (x) (x)     x?  
Upland sandpiper   x (x)       x x?
Western meadowlark   x (x)       x x?

MIDGRASS SPECIES
Savannah sparrow   x (x)       x?  
Eastern meadowlark shrubs/trees (x) x (x)   x    
Bobolink   x (x)       x  
Dickcissel   x (x)     x    

TALLGRASS SPECIES
Le Conte's sparrow   x (x)   wet sedge/grass meadows   x?  
Yellow rail   x (x)   *wet sedge/grass meadows     x?
Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow   x (x)   *wet sedge/grass meadows     x?
Henslow's sparrow     x (x)     x? x?  
Sedge wren   x (x)   wet sedge/grass meadows   x?  

SPECIES REQUIRING WOODY VEGETATION OR OTHER NESTING STRUCTURE
Loggerhead shrike trees/shrubs   x (x)     x?  
Bell's vireo shrubs   (x) x   x?    
Clay-colored sparrow shrubs   (x) x   x    
Field sparrow shrubs   (x) x   x    
Lark sparrow shrubs (x) x (x)     x?  
Brewer's blackbird trees/shrubs (x) x (x)     x  

SPECIES REQUIRING OPEN WATER
Blue-winged teal   x (x)   *open water x    
Wilson's phalarope   x (x)   *standing water;
wet sedge/grass meadows
    x?

SPECIES REQUIRING LARGE AREAS (AREA-SENSITIVE)
Northern harrier   (x) x (x) wet sedge/grass meadows   x? x
Greater prairie-chicken   (x) x (x)       x
Sharp-tailed grouse shrubs   (x) x       x
Barn owl   (x) x (x) forages over wetlands     x
Short-eared owl   (x) x (x) forages over wetlands     x?


a Information based on data and observations from the Wisconsin grassland bird study and from the midwestern grassland bird literature. Where data are lacking, conflicting, or inconclusive, a question mark appears.
b See Appendix F for additional information on the habitat requirements of grassland bird species, including species not of management concern.
c See Glossary for definition of height-density. x = most preferred categories; (x) = less preferred categories.
d See Glossary for definition of litter layer. Categories (high/medium/low) refer to both the depth of litter and percent of ground surface covered.
e Categories refer to both the height-density and percent of ground surface covered.
f Cover of grasses (or sedges) in relation to forbs: high = >2.5:1 grass:forb, medium = 1:1 to 2.5:1 grass:forb; low = <1:1 grass:forb.
g Percent of ground surface covered by woody vegetation canopy. x = most preferred categories; (x) = less preferred categories.
h Minimum area required for a species to be likely to occupy a site.
i Typically foraging habitat only.
j Used for dancing or booming grounds.

Click "Back" on Your Browser to Return to Text
Return to Contents

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/wiscbird/table5.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 01-Feb-2013 20:07:36 EST
Reston, VA [vaww55]