National Park Service


Date of this Version



Peitz, D.G. 2007. Grassland Bird Monitoring at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska: 2001-2006 Status Report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/MWR/HTLN/NRTR—2007/023. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


Between 2001 and 2006, 54 plots (14 riparian, 40 prairie) were visited during annual surveys to characterize the breeding bird population at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Thirty-nine species occurred in riparian habitat, 43 in prairie habitat. Accounting for species overlap between habitats, 60 different species occurred on the monument. Only nine species breed on the monument annually, however: Common Yellowthroat, Mourning Dove, Marsh Wren, Common Snipe, and Mallard in the riparian zone; Grasshopper Sparrow and Lark Sparrow in the prairie; and Red-winged Blackbird and Western Meadowlark in both habitats. Seven grassland obligates were observed: Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Horned Lark, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Vesper Sparrow and Western Meadowlark. Partners in Flight, a consortium of bird conservation agencies and interested individuals, lists seven of the species observed as “species of continental importance”: Brown Thrasher, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Swainson’s Hawk, and White-crowned Sparrow. Four of these species (Grasshopper Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and Swainson’s Hawk), along with Upland Sandpiper, are species of conservation importance for the shortgrass prairie ecotype. The most commonly recorded species on the Monument across habitats was the Redwinged Blackbird. Management decisions aimed at influencing bird populations should center on those species identified as being of local or continental importance. Yet even species common at the site, such as the Red-winged Blackbird, face regional population declines.