Seasonal and Breeding Phenologies of 38 Grassland Bird Species in the Midcontinent of North America

Open-File Report 2024-1002
Ecosystems Mission Area—Species Management Research Program
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture
By: , and 



Grasslands in the midcontinent of North America are highly imperiled, and grassland birds have suffered the largest bird declines of any terrestrial biome in North America in the last 50 years. Consequently, the conservation and management of grasslands, as well as their associated avian communities, are major priorities for the State, Provincial, and Federal agencies; non-governmental organizations; and private entities that influence the millions of hectares of grasslands in the midcontinent. Resource managers often deploy disturbances to grasslands (for example, grazing, haying, and burning) to maintain or enhance their quality or structure, but the timing of these disturbances has the potential to disrupt the nesting activities of grassland birds. In this report, we compiled two types of phenology information for 38 species of nonwaterfowl, grassland-nesting birds across four author-defined regions in the midcontinent of North America: (1) species- and region-specific arrival and departure dates from the eBird database, which indicate when a species may be assumed to be present in a region; and (2) reported dates of nesting activity for each species (start and end dates of nesting as well as total duration) from published bird distribution and occurrence books and breeding bird atlases, which indicate when nesting by a species may be assumed. This previously available but widely dispersed information, compiled for the first time, will aid resource managers and inform their decisions about the timing of disturbances while minimizing grassland management effects on nesting birds.

Suggested Citation

MacDonald, G.J., Anteau, M.J., Ellis, K.S., Igl, L.D., Niemuth, N.D., and Vest, J.L., 2024, Seasonal and breeding phenologies of 38 grassland bird species in the midcontinent of North America: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2024–1002, 43 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results and Discussion
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. State- and Province-Level Summaries of Grassland Bird Phenology
  • Appendix 2. List of Published Resources Searched for Nesting Phenology Information
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Seasonal and breeding phenologies of 38 grassland bird species in the midcontinent of North America
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2024-1002
DOI 10.3133/ofr20241002
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description vi, 43 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details