U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2007


Published in Am. Midl. Nat. 159:162–171.


We surveyed 30 roadsides in North Dakota’s Prairie Pothole Region for birds and active nests between May and July 2001–2002. Each roadside transect was 1608 m and had ≥200 linear meters of standing cattail (Typha spp.). We recorded 45 bird species; four species of Icteridae dominated the avifauna. Red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were both the most abundant species and most abundant nester, averaging 53 birds/10 ha (SE = 7.7) and 30 nests/10 ha (SE = 9.7). Among non-icterid species, song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) and common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) ranked first and second consecutively in 2001 and 2002. Canonical correspondence analyses of species compositions indicated that species abundance was related to two roadside variables, length and water depth of cattail stands. Cattails added habitat diversity and acceptable conditions for wetland-dwelling avian species not typically found in rural roadsides outside of the Prairie Pothole Region. We documented use of roadsides by three species of grassland birds of national or regional conservation concern. Roadsides in North Dakota, although dominated mostly by generalist bird species with edge tolerance, may have some management potential for area-dependent grassland birds.