ABSTRACT

Habitat type can dramatically affect wildlife by influencing availability of resources (such as food) or behavior, which in turn can impact reproductive output. Human-dominated areas with short grass, such as golf courses, can provide habitat for wildlife but may have reduced arthropod abundance, which can lower habitat quality for birds. We investigated food availability, foraging behavior, and reproductive success of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) nesting in areas with relatively short grass (primarily golf courses) and in nearby fields with taller grass (natural areas) in Wisconsin, USA. We found that areas with shorter grass had significantly lower arthropod biomass. When foraging, bluebirds made more successful prey captures at sites with short grass, but individual foraging success did not influence fledging success or number of broods. Overall, no differences were found between areas with short grass and tall grass in terms of the number of eggs laid or young fledged. The results of this study suggest that despite having lower food abundance, mowed areas with short grass, such as golf courses, can potentially provide valuable habitat for bluebirds.

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