Johnson, R.G. 1985. Effects of prairie management practices on nesting birds. M.S. Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 53 pp.
We evaluated whether or not birds in tallgrass prairie fragments were most likely to nest in the habitat type that provided high quality habitat. We defined habitat types according to the size of the fragment, its proximity to a forest edge, and the number of growing seasons since the vegetation was last burned. We defined habitat quality in terms of the productivity of nests in each habitat type. We developed regression models to identify the habitat characteristics correlated with nest productivity and nest occurrence for five species of tallgrass prairie birds. Nest productivity and, hence, habitat quality for all species was highest in the habitat type containing areas located far from a forest edge with one growing season since the vegetation was last burned. In none of the five species was the probability of nest occurrence greatest in the habitat type we identified as high quality. Management actions based solely on nest occurrences would have favored habitat types with relatively low rates of nest productivity and could have impaired the ability of these species to maintain stable populations.