We reviewed the literature to assess the impact of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on bird populations in the central USA. The CRP replaced production agriculture fields with grassland habitat used by more than 90 species of birds. At least 42 bird species nested in CRP habitats. Bird species richness in CRP fields was similar to that in rowcrop fields, but relative abundance was 1.4 to 10.5 times higher in CRP plantings. Nest abundance was 13.5 times higher in CRP than crop fields, although eating success of songbirds was only slightly higher in CRP fields (40) vs. 36% in crops). Limited evidence suggests that the CRP has positively affected the population growth rates of several nongame grassland bird species. Waterfowl nest densities and nesting success in CRP fields were similar to those occurring in grassland habitats managed specifically for waterfowl. The presence of CRP grassland has been postulated to have improved the quality of existing duck nest habitat by dispersing nests over a larger area. Ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus L.) populations seemingly increased substantially with CRP acres. Little evidence of positive population response by northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus L.) to the CRP is available. Overall, grassland birds known to be declining throughout North America were seemingly the most benefitted by the CRP.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science