Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



Prairie Naturalist (March 2005) 37(1): 43-45.


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society.

United States government work.

Public domain material.


While conducting field work in Morton County, southwestern Kansas and Baca County, southeastern Colorado, during the period 27 May to 2 July 1997, we found 36 nests of seven bird species. Nests were not searched for systematically, but were found coincidentally as data were collected along transects during research investigating the breeding bird and plant communities of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies and noncolonized shortgrass prairie (Winter 1999).

Low densities of the brown-headed cowbird in our study region, which is characterized by a semi-arid climate, might be a consequence of host populations that exhibit extreme temporal and spatial variability in response to the climatic variability of these regions (Wiens 1974, Cody 1985, Winter et al. 2003). As host populations vary greatly in time and space over large areas on the western Great Plains (Wiens 1974, Cody 1985), perhaps the brown-headed cowbird is simply unable to effectively respond to host population changes.