US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in The Prairie Naturalist 35(3): September 2003. Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society


The productivity of birds is one of the most critical components of their natural history affected by habitat quality. Birds might occur at high densities in a given habitat patch but have low nesting success. Such "population sinks" would not be detected if observers relied solely on estimates of bird density. Therefore, it is essential to monitor nests and determine their outcomes. Although interest in grassland-nesting passerines has increased greatly during the last decade, we still know little about factors affecting their nesting success. To stimulate more research in this area, we summarize several methods for nest-searching and provide suggestions for optimizing its success in tall grass prairie. As a case study, we provide some data from a study on grassland-nesting birds in the northern tallgrass prairie.