The effects of grazing on songbird nesting success in Grasslands National Park of Canada
I examined the effects of nest site vegetation structure and cattle grazing on songbird nesting success in native mixed-grass prairie in Grasslands National Park of Canada and Mankota Community Pastures in southwestern Saskatchewan. This is the first study to compare songbird nesting success in season-long grazed and ungrazed native mixed-grass prairie. Sprague’s pipit, Baird’s sparrow, vesper sparrow, lark bunting, and chestnut-collared longspur all selected for denser vegetation at the nest than was generally available. Sprague’s pipit daily nest survival declined with increased vegetation density and litter depth at the nest site. Vegetative cover did not influence daily nest survival of the other species. Environmental conditions during the study may have resulted in an increased risk of predation for Sprague’s pipits nesting in greater cover. Grazing did not influence daily nest survival of any of the 5 species. Low-moderate intensity cattle grazing appears compatible with management for prairie songbirds in native mixed-grass prairie.
cattle, grazing, mixed-grass prairie, nesting success, Saskatchewan, songbird, vegetation structure, nesting ecology