Avian abundance in CRP and crop fields during winter in the midwest

Louis B. Best, Henry Campa, Kenneth E. Kemp, Robert J. Robel, Mark R. Ryan, Julie A. Savidge, Harmon P. Weeks, Scott R. Winterstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compared the abundance and species composition of birds in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields with the same aspects in row-crop fields during the winter (January and February) over several years (1992-1995) for six midwestern states (Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska). Field techniques were standardized in all states. CRP fields consisted of either permanent introduced grasses and legumes (CP1) or permanent native grasses (CP2), and the plant species seeded in CRP fields differed within and among states. Vegetation characteristics of CRP fields varied considerably from state to state, but vertical density and total canopy cover (primarily grasses) were particularly high in Nebraska. Mean annual total bird abundance ranged from 0.1 to 5.1 birds per km of transect in CRP fields and from 0.1 to 24.2 in row-crop fields. The total number of bird species recorded in CRP fields in the six states ranged from 6 to 32; the range for row-crop fields was 8 to 18. The most abundant species in CRP fields differed among states but included the ring-necked pheasant, American tree sparrow, northern bobwhite, dark-eyed junco and American goldfinch. The most abundant species in row-crop fields included the horned lark, American tree sparrow, European starling, mourning dove, lapland longspur, meadowlarks and Canada goose. Some of the most abundant bird species wintering on CRP fields have been undergoing long-term population declines, thus this program has the potential to mitigate population losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-324
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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