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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

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Photo: Al Woodliffe hickory, and beech produce hard mast, acorns or nuts. Other tree and shrub species such as birch, ironwood, raspberry, and flowering dogwood produce soft mast, catkins, or berries. Red oak is the most important hard mast producing species in Ontario, since it produces seed at an earlier age and in greater quantities than white oak. However, white oak is a very longlived species that produces a yearly mast crop with high nutritional value. Other important mast trees include, American beech, hickories, hazelnut, butternut, black walnut, other oak species, and to a lesser extent ironwood. Historically, the endangered American chestnut was a major contributor of mast in Carolinian forests. In order to maintain biodiversity and structural elements, you should keep a minimum of ten large hard mast trees from a variety of species per hectare in your forest. Bigger crown characteristics are more important to mast production than the diameter of the tree. Dominant mature trees with large, rounded, vigorous crowns tend to produce the most mast. Consideration should be given to introducing group selection into harvest plans in order to maintain and regenerate typically mid-tolerant mast producing species. Prior to harvesting, managers should identify high quality mast trees as crop trees, and use those crop trees to guide the location of group openings. Larger openings will support soft mast species like black cherry, as well as understorey shrubs like choke cherry, elderberry, blackberry, raspberry, or grape. These can be important food sources for birds during the later part of the breeding season when insect numbers tend to decline, or during migration. 14. Manage in landscape context Any forest management, no matter how intense, creates habitats for some species of plants and animals. Habitat for early successional species, though not static in nature, can be quick and easy to provide in abundance. Habitat for late successional species, on the other hand, is more difficult to provide and can take many years to develop. Ensuring there is adequate habitat to support viable populations of all native species over time is our greatest challenge. Individual management decisions can have cumulative impacts on regional forest quality and function. Managers of both small and large forest properties should consider landscape factors because boundary markers do not limit ecosystem functions and processes. Group selection can be a good management choice for a landowner with lots of oak and black cherry in the overstorey, and little regeneration. However, if every landowner in the region decided to manage their forest using group selection, lots of habitat would be created for gap-dependent species, like the Hooded Warbler, but more sensitive species, like Acadian Flycatcher may be lost from the landscape. Ideally, working together to maintain habitat patterns and successional stages Logging gap — Photo: Teresa Piraino 74 Guidelines for Forest Management and Maintenance of Forest Bird Diversity

that are similar to the historic variety of ecosystems in the natural landscape is a commendable goal. It is important to be aware of the position of your woodlot in the surrounding landscape. Long-term cooperation and planning with neighbours can be highly effective in reducing fragmentation and edge effects and providing habitat for areasensitive and forest interior bird species. By considering special features, physical and biological management constraints, and long- and short-term changes in ecosystem conditions on managed and unmanaged areas within and adjacent to the woodlot in question, all landowners and managers can contribute to maintaining biodiversity across southern Ontario’s managed forests. By employing a variety of silviculture approaches at the landscape level, including setting aside conservation reserves, the landowner will ultimately ensure the availability of habitat for the full suite of species. There is not one right way to manage at the landscape level. We need to remain open to new tools and information in order to continue to incorporate our best science into our management planning. isolated or excluded.. These activities can also disrupt the soil enough that exotic invaders can establish more easily. If you are planning to do some planting or restoration work, it is important to put the right tree in the right place— Ontario’s native trees and shrubs have adapted to specific climates and sites. Land managers should make an effort to plant native species at appropriate densities, and at the appropriate time and location in terms of succession. 15. Additional considerations Additional management considerations could be given to increase bird productivity or the health of your woodlot. To discourage high densities of Brown-headed Cowbirds and nest predators you should consider restricting housing. Housing development within and adjacent to woodlots will discourage many Neotropical migrant songbirds from breeding in these forests. Where this occurs, reducing the amount of mowed grass close to the woodlot edges may be beneficial. Cowbirds prefer short grass for feeding, including lawns, mowed recreation areas, road and field shoulders. Landowners with cats should keep these animals indoors as they are efficient predators of adult and nestling songbirds. Furthermore, recreational activities within woodlots should be restricted to trail systems. Activities such as motorized trail bikes, all terrain vehicles, horses, and mountain bikes that heavily compact the soil should be ATV trail through forest — Photo: Lucas Foerster Guidelines for Forest Management and Maintenance of Forest Bird Diversity 75

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