Roadsides receive almost continuous nesting use from April through August as shown by examples listed. Disturbance of roadside cover by early mowing, farm tillage, grazing, "blanket" spraying, or vehicle and tractor encroachment during the peak nesting months (May, June, July) will significantly lower production for species that use roadsides for nesting.
Mammals: cottontail rabbit, white-tailed jackrabbit, short-tailed shrew, woodchuck, meadow vole, meadow jumping mouse, western harvest mouse, prairie white-footed mouse, pocket gopher, eastern mole, mink, muskrat, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Franklin's ground squirrel, badger, red fox, raccoon, striped skunk, and spotted skunk.
Roadsides also provide the right combination of abundant food and cover for birds that nest in cavities or in trees near roads. The eastern bluebird and American kestrel commonly use natural cavities or nest boxes next to grassy roadsides. The brown thrasher, eastern kingbird, robin, and common edges such as those found along thoroughfares.
Birds: ring-necked pheasant, gray (Hungarian) partridge, mallard, blue-winged teal, pintail, shoveler, gadwall, common yellowthroat, dickcissel, western meadowlark, red-winged blackbird, mourning dove, bobolink, American goldfinch, killdeer, American bittern, upland sandpiper, eastern field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, savannah sparrow, vesper sparrow, sharp-tailed grouse, and prairie chicken.
Song Birds and Game Birds: Where and When They Nest
Normal Nesting Period
Nesting Days per Brood*
Number of Broods Each Year
Mid-April through August
Shallow depression on ground, sparsely lined with grass
Mid-May through August
Shallow depression on ground, lined with grass.
April through July
Hollow on ground, lined with grass and down.
Late June through August
Cup of woven grass and plant down in weeds or small trees.
Mid-May through July
Shallow cup of dead grass on ground.
Late April through mid-July
Domed nest of woven grasses with side opening
Late April through early September
Loose platform of twigs on ground or in tree
Early May through July
Loose cup of woven grass on ground or raised in grass tussock or small bush.
May through mid-August
Hollow cup of grass, rim level with ground or slightly raised.
May through early August
Bulky cup of woven grasses, in shallow depression on ground or in grass tussock.
May through early August
Bulky cup of dead grasses with partial hood, built just above ground in grass tussock or small shrubs.
*Approximate length of time from first egg laid until young leave nest. Nesting periods may be extended if birds are forced to re-nest because nest is destroyed or abandoned.