Managing Roadsides for Upland Wildlife
Posted: 05/22/2012
Iowa has more than 1.6 million acres of road right-of-ways and when properly managed these roadsides provide important nesting, roosting, and escape habitat for pheasants, partridge, quail, ducks, rabbits, and songbirds. 

Unfortunately, indiscriminate mowing and ill-timed burning destroys many nests and young each year.  However, by following a few simple guidelines, roadsides can be very beneficial to upland wildlife.

Nesting for most of Iowa’s upland wildlife begins in late April and early May and runs through late summer.
 
“Many of these species begin nesting before spring green-up," said Todd Bogenschutz, wildlife research biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.  “Most nests are placed in the old dead vegetation that remains from the previous year.  Burning in mid-April through June destroys nests and eggs, while mowing in June and July kills hens and chicks.

“Burning can be very beneficial to wildlife if done at the right time and in the right way," said Bogenschutz.  He offers the following suggestions to improve roadsides for upland wildlife:
Some state and county agencies provide information for implementing roadside management practices.  Contact your local county conservation board to find out more about roadside vegetation management programs in your area.  If your county does not have a roadside program, ask them to start one, or contact your local wildlife biologist for more information.