Environmental Criteria for Nest Site Selection by Mississippi Sandhill Cranes

Seven environmental parameters were estimated at each nest site and 2 or 3 (per nest) systematically selected control (non-nest) sites during pre-nesting (MarchApril) and post-nesting (May-July) 1983 and 1984 on the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. Discriminant analysis revealed percentage of vegetation at the nest site was the only variable that differed between nests and control sites during pre-nesting and post-nesting periods for both years. Ground cover of water and water depth next to the nest differed from control sites during post-nesting 1983 and prenesting 1984. In 1984, an unusually dry year, the importance of standing water during post-nesting was reflected as a significant difference in bare ground. Foliage invertebrates were more abundant and diverse at nest sites. These data suggest that the amount and distribution of standing water during pre-nesting may be good predictors of invertebrate abundance and availability to young sandhill hatchlings.

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