Grassland Songbird Research

BIAS 171 259Three upland songbirds have been identified as target species of concern on the refuge.  They are the Baird's sparrow, Sprague's pipit and chestnut-collared longspur.    A long-term grassland bird study from 1995-2005 on the refuge compared vegetation measurements taken at nest sites to measurements taken at random sites throughout four study plots (445 acres total) for all three species. Researchers found the Baird's sparrow preferred nesting habitat with greater litter depth (averaging 8 inches) and taller vegetation (averaging 14 inches) than that found at random sites.  In addition, it was found the sparrow selected sites devoid of clubmoss and bare ground.  The Sprague's pipit used nest sites with intermediately tall (averaging 12 inches), vertically dense, vegetation and nest patches (16 foot radius plot around the nest) with greater litter cover and depth, while avoiding areas with prickly pear cactus.  The pipits selected areas with less than 20% clubmoss cover, few shrubs, and little bare ground.  The chestnut-collared longspur prefers to  nest in sparser areas, with less grass and litter cover, and more clubmoss cover than the other two bird species.