Breeding Phenology, Nesting Success, Habitat Selection, and Census Methods for the Streaked Horned Lark in the Puget Lowlands of Washington

In the spring and summer of 2002 we conducted research on Streaked Horned Lark at four research sites in the south Puget Sound. The objectives were to describe Streaked Horned Lark breeding phenology and life history; assess reproductive success; identify habitat features important to successful breeding; assess the impacts of human activities on Streaked Horned Larks at the 13th Division Prairie; and develop a Streaked Horned Lark survey protocol that could be used by Washington Department of Transportation biologists to determine species presence or absence. Territorial Streaked Horned Larks selected habitats that were sparsely vegetated by relatively short annual grasses and with a relatively high percent of bare ground (particularly associated with dirt, gravel and cobbles), were adjacent to paved or dirt surfaces, and avoided areas dominated by shrubs, perennial bunch grasses (caespitose), sod forming perennial grasses (rhizomatous), and non-native perennial forbs. Two commonly used counting techniques were compared, transects and point counts. Transects resulted in higher repeatability among observers, fewer non-detections, and a more precise estimate of Streaked Horned Lark abundance or density.