Return to Conservation Biology Research on Birds

Hanowski, J.M., and G.J. Niemi. 1985. Habitat characteristics for bird species of special concern and their importance in habitat reclamation. Final report submitted to the Nongame Wildlife Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 59 pp.


A major reason for the population decline of many species over the past 100 years is the loss or change in habitat characteristics or complexes required by those species. Unfortunately, a thorough understanding of specific habitat requirements for many of these species is still lacking. Often wildlife managers or experienced naturalists recognize specific habitat components or configurations that a species needs within its breeding habitat, but quantification of these requirements, their objective determination, or a process to incorporate this information into a management framework are nearly non-existent.

We studied habitat relationships of five species: the yellow rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis), sharp-tailed sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus), upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), and sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus). Each of these species, except the sharp-tailed grouse, have status of special concern in Minnesota (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 1983). This study is the second year of an investigation initiated in 1983 that assessed habitat characteristics of the yellow rail, sharp-tailed sparrow, and upland sandpiper (Niemi and Hanowski 1983). Our objectives for this study were to: 1) locate new territories for the yellow rail, sharp-tailed sparrow, and upland sandpiper; 2) locate territories for the American bittern and sharp-tailed grouse; 3) sample habitat characteristics within each of these territories located; 4) analyze these habitat data to identify similar and different characteristics in the territories of these species; and 5) identify differences and similarities in territories of the yellow rail, sharp-tailed sparrow and upland sandpiper sampled in 1983 and 1984.

Full document (3580 KB)