Overwintering sparrow use of field borders planted as beneficial insect habitat

Authors

  • Charles J. Plush,

    1. Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7646, USA
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  • Christopher E. Moorman,

    Corresponding author
    1. Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7646, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. North Carolina State University, Box 7646, Turner House, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.
    • Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Program, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7646, USA
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  • David B. Orr,

    1. Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7613, USA
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  • Chris Reberg-Horton

    1. Department of Crop Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7620, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Leonard Brennan

Abstract

Field borders are an effective conservation strategy for providing habitat to overwintering sparrows, and may be a venue through which beneficial insect populations are promoted. However, traditional fallow field borders lack sufficient pollen and nectar sources required to sustain beneficial insect populations; therefore, borders planted to a mix of native prairie flowers and grasses may be needed if increases in beneficial insect populations are desired. Although the value of fallow borders to birds has been established, little is known about bird use of beneficial insect habitats. Using single-observer transect surveys, we compared overwintering sparrow densities among 4 field border treatments (planted native warm season grasses and prairie flowers, planted prairie flowers only, fallow, and mowed) replicated around 9 organic crop fields from November to March 2009–2010 and 2010–2011. Sparrow densities were 5–10 times lower in mowed borders than in other border treatments in 2009–2010 and 2010–2011, but did not differ among planted and fallow borders in either year. Planted field borders may be a useful conservation practice for providing habitat for both overwintering sparrows and beneficial insects. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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