Knowledge of nest site characteristics and nest success of grassland birds is important in the conservation and preservation of species such as the eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) and grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum). We documented nest site characteristics of these two species and compared each nest site to a paired random site. We also compared the eastern meadowlark nest sites to the grasshopper sparrow nest sites. Eastern meadowlark nests were significantly further from an edge than random (P=0.049). Grasshopper sparrow nests were significantly further from a shrub/tree (P=0.042) and a perch (P=0.004) than random. Eastern meadowlarks selected sites further from a bare ground patch (≥1 m2; P=0.007), with more litter depth (P=<0.001), smaller bare ground percent (P=0.083) and higher visual obstruction readings (VOR) (P=0.037) than grasshopper sparrows. Military training, conducted before the current breeding season, did not appear to affect the location and success of EAME and GRSP nests. Based on distance to nearest military vehicle track, we conclude that minimal military disturbance is not a deterrent to EAME or GRSP nest site selection. We recommend that management of nesting habitat for eastern meadowlarks include consideration of litter depth (more is better), bare ground (less is better), and amount of woody vegetation and/or edge habitat (less is better). For grasshopper sparrow nesting habitat, minimal or no litter, modest amounts of bare ground, and shorter vegetation is recommended.
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Vol. 109 • No. 3