Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jesse I. Morrison

Committee Member

Scott A. Rush

Committee Member

Mark D. McConnell

Committee Member

Joby M. Czarnecki

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 1 year

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only


Plant and Soil Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Plant and Soil Sciences


North American grassland bird populations are declining more rapidly than other groups of birds. A well-established method of quantifying and monitoring grassland bird populations is by locating active nests. Active nests are often difficult to locate in grassland swards due to the varying heights within the canopy that nests are established. Studies quantifying grassland bird populations have low statistical power due to low sample sizes and high disturbance. Advances in small, unmanned aerial systems and thermographic imaging technologies have potential to improve efficiency of locating nests throughout canopies. This study explored detection accuracy of using thermal imagery to identify simulated grassland bird nests located at different heights within monoculture tall-stature grass canopies. This methodology was tested in blind evaluations, using multiple evaluators. Results from this study suggest that surveying thermal images is a reliable method for detecting active nests at depths of up to 1 m into a grass canopy.