Associations of wintering birds with habitat in semidesert and plains grasslands in Arizona

Southwestern Naturalist
By: , and 



We studied associations with winter habitat for seven species of birds, one species-group (eastern and western meadowlarks combined), and total sparrows at seven sites in the semidesert and plains grasslands of southeastern Arizona from 1999–2001, sampling with mist-nets and survey-transects. We measured structure and composition of vegetation, assessing vegetative differences among sites, and modeled associations between indices of avian abundance and six vegetative variables using generalized linear models. For all vegetative variables, there were significant differences among sites. Numbers of northern harriers (Circus cyaneus) were positively associated with total number of sparrows. Indices of abundance for individual species of birds were statistically correlated with various measures of structure and composition of vegetation. In particular, grasshopper (Ammodramus savannarum) and vesper (Pooecetes gramineus) sparrows were negatively associated with amount of bare ground; horned larks (Eremophila alpestris) were negatively associated with vertical grass density; Baird's sparrows (A. bairdii) were negatively associated with shrub density; meadowlarks (Sturnella magna and S. neglecta combined) were positively associated with native grass. Our results suggest that these species would benefit from management of habitat that affects the vegetative characteristics associated with their abundance.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Associations of wintering birds with habitat in semidesert and plains grasslands in Arizona
Series title Southwestern Naturalist
DOI 10.1894/F07-GDS-13.1
Volume 59
Issue 2
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Southwestern Association of Naturalists
Publisher location Dallas, TX
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 199
Last page 211
Country United States
State Arizona
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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