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Keywords:

  • bird communities;
  • nesting habits;
  • vegetation structure

Discriminant analysis is used to identify relationships between vegetation structure and nesting behavior in 78 breeding bird communities in North America. Results indicated that bird communities associated with structurally similar vegetation exhibited similar arrays of nesting habits despite their geographical separation. Tree-cavity, intermediate-cup, and high-cup nesters dominated forests and woodlands; ground-cup and ground-scrape nesters dominated grasslands; and low-cup nesters dominated desert, scrub, and some woodland sites. These functional relationships are distinct from previously reported continental scale relationships between avian feeding habits and gross vegetation structure. Links between nesting behavior and vegetation structure provide us, as geographers, with a means for placing birds into a physical landscape perspective.