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Non-game birds comprise 93% of the 831 species recorded in the U.S; of these, forest birds and neotropical migrants have received considerable attention. To develop a management plan for non-game birds in Nebraska, historically a predominately grassland ecosystem, it was necessary to determine species in need of conservation and assess their respective habitat status. Using BBS and PIF databases, we developed a prioritization scheme that identified 44 breeding species in need of conservation in Nebraska; 20 of the 44 are grassland birds. Because several species in need of conservation known to occur in the state were missing from these databases, we evaluated rare and/or endemic species. A rarity index established that most rare breeders in Nebraska are at the edge of their ranges. We identified 12 grassland endemic species; 8 breed in Nebraska and 7 of these are declining surveywide. Results highlight 39 priority species for Nebraska and indicate a need to increase attention to endemic grassland species, at least in times of limited resources when the luxury of including edge-of-range rare species may not be feasible. Recommendations for conservation of the endemic grassland species include use of Bird Conservation Areas as a model.
Advisor; Dr. Mary M. Beck