Behaviour 2019
Male Cassin’s Sparrow vegetation preferences for territory establishment  
Natalia M Kauffman1, Connor Dowd1, Clark Jones2, Claire V. Ramos1. 1Colorado State University - Pueblo, Pueblo, CO, United States; 2Colorado Fish and Wildlife, Puebo, CO, United States

The Cassin’s Sparrow (Peucaea Cassinii) is a declining songbird species, native to the prairie regions of the southwest United States. This species has a patchy distribution across this range and little is known about its habitat preferences. The research objective of this study was to determine which types of vegetation male Cassin’s Sparrows preferred when establishing a territory. To determine population size, point-count surveys were conducted from May to August at six plots with varying vegetation composition. Each plot consisted of nine points in a grid, with each point 125 meters apart. After the breeding season, vegetation surveys were conducted at each point to determine the vegetation composition. The different types of vegetation were correlated with the relative number of Cassin’s Sparrows in each area with multiple regression statistical analysis. The study found that when the number of cholla increased, the number of Cassin’s Sparrows also increased, which indicates a positive relationship. Cassin’s Sparrows seem to choose territories with a higher density of cholla, which can afford them increased protection from predators and inclement weather.