Just entered the last day of the spring International Shorebird Survey data and graphed out the results. Back in 2017 in responses to both grassland nesting bird declines and migratory shorebird declines we implemented a shorebird habitat plan. This included adjustments to our rotational grazing, some increase in haying, the addition of selective mowing, spraying of cattails & phragmites and the disking of dry ephemeral and seasonal basins. All of this to produce the short and sparse vegetation in a shifting mosaic pattern across the preserve; habitat that shorebirds need to stop to rest and feed during both fall and spring migration.
This type of disturbance has also resulted in an increase in some species of grassland nesting bird use, but not as dramatic as the shorebirds as the grassland birds are exhibiting steep declines across their range. Meadowlarks are up slightly, Dickcissels have seen a significant increase and Upland Sandpipers a slight increase whereas Grasshopper Sparrows are still showing a slow decline.
Hopefully, my graduate student from Fort Hays State University research over the next two years will give us a better picture of the state of our grassland nesting birds.