Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research17:203-13 (Fall 2007). Copyright ©2007 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Conservationists and managers mention grassland restorations as a conservation strategy to reverse the decline of grassland bird populations in the Great Plains. In the Rainwater Basin Region of southcentral Nebraska, state and federal resource agencies have used grassland restorations to protect wetlands from sedimentation and agrichemical runoff. These grassland restorations may also provide important habitat for breeding grassland birds. In this paper, we describe the abundance, composition, nesting success, and habitat requirements of breeding birds in grassland restorations in the Rainwater Basin Region. We observed 14 grassland bird species in 12 grassland restorations. The most abundant species were dickcissels (Spiza americana), grasshopper sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), and bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus). We found a total of 84 nests composed of II species in restorations. Dickcissels and grasshopper sparrows accounted for 77% of all nests found. Nest success was 31% (26 nests), and the major cause of nest loss was predation, which accounted for 66% (38 nests) of all nest failures. The occurrence of 10 of the species in grassland restorations was influenced by a variety of vegetation variables. Grassland bird species have benefited from grassland restorations in the Rainwater Basin Region. Conservation strategies for grassland birds in the Rainwater Basin Region should continue to focus on restoring marginal croplands back to grasslands.