Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program:
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources


Assessing Migratory Avifauna Responses to Managed Land Use Practices in a Sagebrush/Grassland System

December 2012 - September 2017


Participating Agencies

The objective of this agreement is to enable the Bureau of Land Management and USGS to inform sustainable and economically viable land management practices that maintain habitat for migratory avifauna. Grazing management enhances important components of sagebrush and grassland habitat for a wide range of species, but little work has been done to evaluate impacts of prescribed grazing on migratory birds. The scale and magnitude of benefits for avian species remains unclear, especially in the Big Sagebrush Steppe systems of eastern Montana. While we anticipate primarily positive responses by birds to prescribed grazing, neutral or negative impacts are possible. For example, prescribed grazing rotations may affect cowbird parasitism, which is an important limiting factor for some nesting birds. We will evaluate the responses of sagebrush-, shrub-, and grassland-associated bird species under differing grazing management. This proposed work builds off of existing research infrastructure to evaluate the impact of rest-rotational grazing management on greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) being implemented as part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI).