Effects of haying on breeding birds in CRP grasslands

Journal of Wildlife Management
By:  and 

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Abstract

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program that is available to agricultural producers to help protect environmentally sensitive or highly erodible land. Management disturbances of CRP grasslands generally are not allowed unless authorized to provide relief to livestock producers during severe drought or a similar natural disaster (i.e., emergency haying and grazing) or to improve the quality and performance of the CRP cover (i.e., managed haying and grazing). Although CRP grasslands may not be hayed or grazed during the primary bird-nesting season, these disturbances may have short-term (1 yr after disturbance) and long-term (≥2 yr after disturbance) effects on grassland bird populations. We assessed the effects of haying on 20 grassland bird species in 483 CRP grasslands in 9 counties of 4 states in the northern Great Plains, USA between 1993 and 2008. We compared breeding bird densities (as determined by total-area counts) in idle and hayed fields to evaluate changes 1, 2, 3, and 4 years after haying. Haying of CRP grasslands had either positive or negative effects on grassland birds, depending on the species, the county, and the number of years after the initial disturbance. Some species (e.g., horned lark [Eremophila alpestris], bobolink [Dolichonyx oryzivorus]) responded positively after haying, and others (e.g., song sparrow [Melospiza melodia]) responded negatively. The responses of some species changed direction as the fields recovered from haying. For example, densities for common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), sedge wren (Cistothorus platensis), and clay-colored sparrow (Spizella pallida) declined the first year after haying but increased in the subsequent 3 years. Ten species showed treatment × county interactions, indicating that the effects of haying varied geographically. This long-term evaluation on the effects of haying on breeding birds provides important information on the strength and direction of changes in bird populations following a disturbance. Results from this study can help guide management of CRP and other grasslands and inform future agricultural programs that address biomass energy production. © 2016 This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of haying on breeding birds in CRP grasslands
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21119
Volume 80
Issue 7
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 16 p.
First page 1189
Last page 1204
Country United States
State Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota
Other Geospatial Butte County, Eddy County, Fallon County, Day County, Grant County, Hettlinger County, Kidder County, McPherson County, Sheridan County
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N