Breeding bird response to field border presence and width

  • Published source details Conover R.R., Burger L.W. Jr. & Linder E.T. (2009) Breeding bird response to field border presence and width. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology (formerly The Wilson Bulletin), 121, 548-555.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

    A replicated controlled study in May and June 2003-4 on six arable farms in Mississippi, USA (Conover et al. 2009), found that there were significantly more farmland bird species in bordered field margins, compared to unbordered margins (approximately 5 species/ha for 35 bordered margins vs. 0.5 species/ha for 21 unbordered margins). There were higher densities of farmland birds on margins and crops for fields with wide borders (35 birds/ha for 7-11 wide borders and 27-29 birds/ha for adjacent cropland), compared with narrow margins (18 birds/ha for 24-27 narrow borders and 13-15 birds/ha for cropland) or fields without borders (3 birds/ha for 21 unbordered margins and 1-9 birds/ha for cropland). Four species (red-winged blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus, dickcissel Spiza americana, northern cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis, indigo bunting Passerina cyanea) were significantly more abundant on bordered margins. Borders consisted of strips either 6-12 m (narrow) or 20-56 m (wide) around arable fields and planted in spring 2002 with grasses and legumes. If non-native species were dominant, the borders were also treated with selective herbicide.


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