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1 January 2011 Grassland Bird use of Oak Barrens and Dry Prairies in Wisconsin
M.Vos Susan, Christine A. Ribic
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Grassland bird populations have declined more than any other group of birds in North America and are of conservation concern to state and federal agencies. We determined relative abundances of grassland birds in oak barrens and dry sand prairies—native habitat types rare in the state of Wisconsin. We also investigated the association of relative abundance, patch size, and patch vegetation. Our study was conducted May–July 2000–2002 on Fort McCoy Military Installation in Monroe County, Wisconsin. Fourteen grassland bird species were found in native habitat patches. Vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), and field sparrow (Spizella pusilla) were the most abundant grassland bird species; all are species of management concern in Wisconsin. Of the most abundant species, only grasshopper sparrow relative abundance increased as patch size increased; vesper sparrow and field sparrow relative abundances decreased as patch size increased. Though found at lower relative abundances, horned larks (Erephila alpestris), savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis), and upland sandpipers (Bartramia longicauda) were found at higher relative abundances as patch size increased. Patch vegetation was important for some species. Vesper sparrows were found at higher abundances in patches with shorter, less dense vegetation and higher woody cover, eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) relative abundances were higher in patches with higher proportions of grass, and dickcissel (Spiza americana) relative abundances were higher in patches with taller, denser vegetation and lower proportions of litter. Native habitats are important for grassland bird species of management concern and large patches are particularly important for some of them.

M.Vos Susan and Christine A. Ribic "Grassland Bird use of Oak Barrens and Dry Prairies in Wisconsin," Natural Areas Journal 31(1), 26-33, (1 January 2011).
Published: 1 January 2011

dry sand prairie
grassland birds
oak barrens
patch size
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