Document Type



Prairies, breeding species, grassland birds, woodland birds, breeding bird density


The avifauna of 10. l hectare (ha) Sheeder Prairie Preserve in Guthrie County, west central Iowa, was studied from 1980 through 1982. Singing male counts and nest searches were conducted during 1981 and 1982. Territories of grassland species were mapped. Sixty-four species were found, 25 of which were considered to be breeding species. Most numerous breeders, based upon territorial male counts, were in decreasing order of abundance Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas L.), House Wren (Troglodytes aedon Vieillot), Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla Wilson), Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia L.), Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis L.) and American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis L.). Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura L.) was an abundant breeder among "non-singing" species. Brown-headed Cowbird had parasitized 20.6% of nests discovered but was not deemed to be a significant threat to breeding success. Of the breeding species, 72% are characteristic of woodlands. Two species have wetland affinities. Two grassland species, Dickcissel (Spiza americana Gmelin) and Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum Gmelin), bred during 1982 when fields adjacent to the study area were planted to Oats (Avena sativa L.). Both were absent when these fields were planted to Corn (Zea mays L.). Estimates of the size of the breeding bird populations at the height of the nesting season in late June and early July during 1981 and 1982 were 30 and 28 pairs respectively (5.9 birds/ha and 5.5 birds/ha respectively). The varied topography and resultant vegetational diversity produce a varied avifauna.

Publication Date

December 1984

Journal Title

Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science





First Page


Last Page



©1984 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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