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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Eastern meadowlarks nesting in rangelands and conservation reserve program fields in Kansas
Year: 1996
Author(s): Granfors, D. A., Church, K. E., Smith, L. M.
Source Title: Journal of Field Ornithology
Source Type: Journal
pages: 222-235
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) nesting habitat was studied to make management recommendations for fields enrolled in a federal land retirement program. We compared available microhabitat, nest-site selection, and nest success on rangelands and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields in eastern Kansas. Daily nest survival rates and numbers fledged per female did not differ significantly between land-use types, but the power of these tests was low. Predation was the primary source of nest failure throughout incubation, hatching, and nestling stages; abandonment, trampling, inviability, and unknown causes also were important during incubation. Mowing CRP fields was a source of nest failure and also induced adults to abandon some fields. CRP fields had a significantly higher percent, depth, and density of litter cover; a taller herbaceous canopy; less herbaceous cover; and more standing dead cover than rangelands. Differences in habitat structure indicate that CRP has increased the diversity of available nesting habitats. Eastern Meadowlarks selected nest sites with significantly greater litter cover, higher proportion of grass, more uncompacted litter, and more structural homogeneity than available on random plots. Delay of mowing and prescribed burning are recommended to enhance and maintain habitat suitability for nesting Eastern Meadowlarks in CRP fields.