Avoidance of habitat edges may be contributing to reduced densities of grass-land birds in small habitat patches. Nest densities for grassland-nesting Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) were much lower than expected within 25 m of forest edges at three sites in New York, and that pattern (“edge avoidance”) extended to 100 m at one site. Nests located within 50 m of forest or wooded hedgerow edges had lower daily survival rates, compared with nests ≥100 m from any habitat edge. Bobolinks tended to move away from forest edges when renesting after nest failure; that pattern was especially evident in females that placed their first nest within 50 m of a forest or wooded hedgerow edge. Second nests of all seven of those females were farther from that edge type than their first nests. However, nest placement in relation to wooded edges did not vary significantly between years for those philopatric females nesting at our study sites for more than one year. Bobolinks also avoided nesting near road edges, even though nest survival rates were not lower near that edge type. However, Bobolinks did not appear to avoid nesting near edges adjacent to old fields or pastures. Nest survival near those edge types was higher than near wooded edges and similar to or higher than survival of nests ≥100 m from any edge. Thus, responses of Bobolinks to habitat edges were inconsistent, and nest success was dependent on type of edge.
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