Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist • 49(2): December 2017


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Over the last 50 years, grassland birds experienced rapid declines due to habitat loss and degradation as a result of agricultural practices. Our objective was to document the diversity, abundance, and nest success of bird communities using managed prairie and agricultural plots at the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in southern Oklahoma and Hagerman NWR in northern Texas. From April 1 to July 15, 2013–2014, point count surveys, nest searches, nest monitoring, and vegetation sampling were conducted among three habitat treatments: managed prairie, unharvested wheat, and fallow agricultural plots. Species richness values for potential nesting species were higher in managed prairies at both refuges, whereas species abundance rates varied among treatments. Nest success rates were low at both refuges due to nest abandonment and predators. Due to vegetation diversity, species were more likely to nest in managed prairies compared to agricultural plots with more homogenous vegetation at both refuges. Managed prairies at both refuges were relatively small and fragmented resulting in edge effects, such as increased nest predation and brood parasitism. We recommend increasing the area of managed prairies to provide more habitat for bird species at both refuges.