Wildlife Habitat in Field Borders (Supplement to Job Sheet 386)
USDA – NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE – NORTH CAROLINA
Photo courtesy of Melissa McGaw, North Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Field borders can be developed to create valuable cover and food resources for wildlife that inhabit
grassy and brushy habitats, such as bobwhite quail, gray fox, indigo buntings, and box turtles. Well-
managed field borders may also provide foraging opportunities for typical forest wildlife, such as
raccoons, whitetail deer and wild turkey. This job sheet will help you design a field border that
provides optimum wildlife habitat.
The importance of properly managed field borders to wildlife include:
♦ The diversity of plants in a well-managed field border will increase the availability of food resources
such as seeds and insect prey (important for many wildlife species, e.g., during the first few weeks of
life, the diet of species like quail and turkey chicks is composed almost entirely of insects).
♦ Field borders provide links between forests and fields around the farm, expanding the amount of
useable wildlife habitat.
♦ Field borders provide critical winter and nesting cover for a variety of grassland wildlife.
Field Border Establishment
♦ Recommended field border width is at least 20 feet. Where a field border for wildlife will be used
as an equipment turn-row, the field border width should be sufficient to allow a minimum of 20
feet of undisturbed habitat.
♦ For wildlife habitat purposes, the ideal field border will appear unkempt and be composed of a
variety of plant species.
♦ A field border managed for wildlife will attain a height of 3-6 feet. It should be comprised of planted
species, for example, switchgrass and shrub lespedeza, as well as volunteer vegetation such as
beggarlice, goldenrod, and ragweed (See attached table of Suggested Wildlife Field Border