We conducted bird surveys in reduced-tillage and conventional tillage fields in spring, summer, fall, and winter from 1987 to 1991 in the Texas Panhandle. Eastern meadowlarks, longspurs, and savannah sparrows were more common in reduced-tillage (sorghum and wheat stubble) fields than in conventionally tilled (plowed) fields in at least 1 season. Other species also had patterns suggestive of greater abundance in reduced-tillage fields. Hornedlarks, which prefer habitat with sparse vegetation, were more abundant in plowed fields in all seasons except summer. Bird diversity was greater in reduced-tillage fields than in conventionally tilled fields in summer. Cover density and height were greater in reduced tillage fields in all seasons except spring. Cover density and height rather than cover composition (e.g.,grain stubble or live plants) seemed to be the important factors affecting bird distribution. Patterns of bird abundance between sorghum and wheat stubble fields also were dependent on cover. Herbicide use was not greater in reduced-tillage fields than in conventionally tilled fields. Reduced-tillage agriculture for sorghum and wheat farming should be encouraged in the southern Great Plains as a means of improving the attractiveness of agricultural land to many bird species.
Additional Publication Details
Bird use of agricultural fields under reduced and conventional tillage in the Texas Panhandle