Grassland bird abundance and nesting in short-duration rotationally grazed pastures in southwest Iowa
Stephen J. Dinsmore
Stephen K. Barnhart
Grassland bird populations across the Midwest are experiencing declines due to loss of habitat, which could potentially be replaced with grazing systems. This study measured abundance, nesting, and derived conservation values for a rotational stocking grazing management unit where cool-season grass (CSG) paddocks were grazing in the spring and fall and rested in the summer, and warm-season grass (WSG) paddocks were grazed in the summer and rested in spring an fall. Adjacent ungrazed Conservation Reserve Program lands in CSG and WSG served as control treatments. Dickcissels (Spiza americana ) had bird densities in ungrazed WSG fields (3.8+/-0.29 birds/ha) similar to WSG grazed paddocks (3.3+/-4.60 birds/ha). Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum) and Eastern Meadowlarks ( Sturnella magna) were primarily in grazed areas, but over 50 percent nest losses resulted from cattle disturbance. The grazing management unit provided limited habitat to grassland birds, but has the potential through further management considerations to provide better habitat.