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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Winter grassland bird community dynamics in pine savanna habitats: The role of fire
Year: 2002
Author(s): Woodry, M., Chandler, C. R.
Source Title: Proceedings of the Third Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 162
Original Publication:  
Abstract: Winter grassland bird communities of pine savannas are poorly known, partly because most grassland birds are difficult to identify and partly because the public views savanna habitats as bring and uninteresting, resulting in little time spent looking for these elusive bird species. Our research into the effects of fire on winter bird communities in pine savanna habitats was conducted at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane and Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuges in Jackson County, MS from 1993 through 2000. We found that although bird species diversity may be low for pine savanna habitats relative to other habitat types, these areas are important to several winter bird species of high conservation in the southeast as well nationally. Two species of highest concern in the southeast, the Henslow’s sparrow and Sedge Wren were the most commonly detected species in recently burned sites. Other species of highest concern found during our study include Mississippi Sandhill Crane, Leconte’s Sparrow and Loggerhead Shrike, while yellow rails, black rails, short-eared owls, Bachman’s Sparrows, and grasshopper sparrows were rarely detected in this study. In addition, our data suggest that the relative abundance of grassland birds of conservation concern depends upon the season of and time since burning. Henslow’s sparrows and sedge wrens are most abundant in sites burned the previous growing season but these species were not detected in the first winter following a dormant season burn. This is likely due to the lack of suitable herbaceous vegetation, which is important for providing food and cover for these species, the winter immediately following a dormant season burn. However, during the second winter following a dormant season burn these species are detected more frequently than are other species.
Publisher: The North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, October 1-3, 2002. Omnipress, Madison, WI
Editor(s): J. Randall