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Birds and burns of the Interior West: descriptions, habitats, and management in western forests

Author(s): Victoria A. Saab, William M. Block, Robin E. Russell, John F. Lehmkuhl, Lisa Bate, Rachel White
Year Published: 2007

This publication provides information about prescribed fire effects on habitats and populations of birds of the interior West and a synthesis of existing information on bird responses to fire across North America. Our literature synthesis indicated that aerial, ground, and bark insectivores favored recently burned habitats, whereas foliage gleaners preferred unburned habitats. Cavity-nesting birds responded more favorably than open-cup nesting species. Trees weakened by fire attract bark and wood-boring beetles, an important food source for woodpeckers, and are also more easily excavated for nesting than green trees. Retention of large-diameter trees and snags allows for population persistence of cavity-nesting birds. Overall, a greater percentage of birds, both migrants and residents, showed a response to prescribed burns during the year of the treatment than in the year after. Fewer species responded 1 year after treatments, which suggests that the influence of prescribed fire on these birds may be short term. Responses to prescribed fire were variable for migratory birds, whereas residents generally had positive or neutral responses. We found that prescribed burn treatments not only destroy snags, but also recruit snags of all sizes. Managers are faced with a variety of options for fuels and fire management. Our results indicate that both prescribed burning and fire suppression influence habitats and populations of wildlife.

Citation: Saab, V.A.; Block, W.; Russell, R.E.; Lehmkuhl, J.; Bate, L.; and White, R. 2007. Birds and burns of the Interior West: descriptions, habitats, and management in western forests. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-712. Portland, OR: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 23 p.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Wildlife, Fire & Wildlife, Birds, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Naturally-ignited Fire-use treatments, Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Ecosystem(s): Ponderosa pine woodland/savanna
Document Type: Synthesis, Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 11123
FRAMES RCS number: 6735
Record updated: Jul 2, 2018