Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist· 41(3/4): December 2009, pp 110-115


I examined patterns of bison (Bison bison L.) hair use by passerine birds nesting in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Osage County, Oklahoma, 2002-2004. I collected and dissected 103 nests of 15 species into their constituent components. Nests were predominately composed of herbaceous material such as grass stems and leaves. Woody material and mud were rarely used. Bison hair was the most prominent zoological material used in nests, with lesser amounts and occurrence of arthropod silk, snake skin, feathers, jack rabbit (Lepus californicus Oray) fur, and man-made materials such as cellophane and string. At least one nest of 13 bird species and 42% of all nests collected contained bison hair. The proportion of bison hair composition was highest for smaller nests, and hair use was greatest for nests built higher off the ground. This suggests that bison hair may have an important role as nest insulation for both small-bodied species and for above-ground nesters more exposed to wind and precipitation on this grassland site.