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Keywords:

  • apparent survival;
  • bobolink;
  • dolichonyx oryzivorus;
  • grassland birds;
  • northeastern United States;
  • Passerculus sandwichensis;
  • pasture management;
  • reproduction;
  • rotational-grazing;
  • savannah sparrow

Abstract

We studied long-term (2002–2009) demographics of bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) and savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) breeding in rotationally grazed systems in the northeastern United States. Both nest success (6–44% bobolink; 7–48% savannah sparrow) and annual productivity (0.43–2.83 bobolink; 0.70–2.35 savannah sparrow) varied annually. Predation (48%) and trampling by cows (32%) accounted for most failed nests. Annual adult apparent survival ranged from 23% to 85% and showed substantial variation by species and sex. Although grazing resulted in substantial loss of vegetative cover, savannah sparrows responded similarly to predation and grazing-induced nest failure (time to renest, distance moved between nests) and generally remained in the same paddock to renest. Minimum paddock size to accommodate one female within this rotation was 70 m × 70 m (0.49 ha), allowing a female to stay within a paddock and move (approx. 50 m) between nesting attempts. To balance pasturing objectives and birds' needs in paddocks first grazed before 25 June, managers in the Northeast should rest that paddock 42–50 days before the second grazing. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.