Avian Responses During Winter to Sorghum Management in the Coastal Bend of Texas

Bart M. Ballard, Thomas C. Tacha

Abstract


Post-harvest grain sorghum treatments were studied to determine those most used by birds during fall and winter 1990-92 in the Coastal Bend area of Texas. Treatment areas were allowed to grow a second seed head following harvest (July-December), then six treatments were applied in December. Bird species richness was higher in double-shredded  =11.5) and single-shredded ( =10.8) than in harvested-only ( =7.7), shred-disced ( =8.8), shred chisel plowed treatments ( =6.0), or controls ( =5.5) during post-treatment period (December-February). Post-treatment densities (birds ha-1) of both ducks and geese were higher (P<0.10) in double-shredded (ducks  =39.1, geese  =38.9) than in all other treatments (ducks  =2.45, geese  =3.58). Upland game bird (primarily dove and quail) densities were highest in shred-disced treatments ( =6.04), while nongame bird (44 species) densities were highest in harvested-only ( =18.4), double shredded ( =18.9), and shred-disced treatments ( =20.69). Sorghum seeds remained available in treatments through February during the dry conditions in 1990-91. Sorghum availability declined to zero in all treatments prior to treatments in December 1991 (due to moisture-related decay), yet sorghum stubble remained an important habitat for wintering birds.

Keywords


forage; nongame birds; upland game birds; waterfowl

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