Grassland Bird Productivity on Military Airfields in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regions – Interim Report.

Grasslands associated with airfields in the northeastern United States (both military and civilian) often support large numbers of regionally rare grassland birds. As grassland habitat area in the region continues to decline, the role that that large airfields play in maintaining populations of these species is likely to increase. Despite this, relatively little is known regarding reproductive success in these habitats, and whether they act as population sources or sinks. This is a particular concern because vegetation management on airfields often involves regular mowing during the summer breeding season, a practice presumed to be harmful to nesting success. To obtain a general picture of grassland bird reproductive success on regional airfields, and to examine possible factors that may be affecting it (including mowing), we conducted a nest monitoring study in 2009 on three military airfields in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast: Westover Air Reserve Base (Massachusetts), Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (New Jersey), and Patuxent River Naval Air Station (Maryland).