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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Planted grains provide greater nest protection than alfalfa, irrigation ditch vegetation or natural cover types

Published source details

Jones R.E. & Hungerford K.E. (1972) Evaluation of Nesting Cover as Protection from Magpie Predation. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 36, 727-732

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Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from May-June in 1955-1958 in three treatment cover types and six natural (control) cover types in Idaho, USA (Jones & Hungerford 1972), found that artificial nests in some cover crops were less likely to be predated than those in other crops. Over ten days, 30% of nests in cereal crops or cattail Typha angustifolia, bulrush Scirpuss acutus or S. validus margins were predated, compared with 40% in alfalfa Medicago sativa and 80% in tall weeds, willows Salix spp., sagebrush Artemisia tridentate or downy chess Bromus tectorum. Overall, 52% of nests were destroyed within 10 days. Grain fields provided significantly greater protection (average ten ‘safe’ days and only 3% nests destroyed) compared to alfalfa and irrigation ditches (average of seven and five ‘safe’ days) or any control cover types. A total of 529 nests, each containing four eggs were placed randomly in cover types (32-68 nests/cover type).