Response of Forest Birds to an Improvement Cut in Kentucky

An improvement cut that removed commercially low-quality trees from an unmanaged 20-ha, 60-year-old, mixed mesophytic forest in Kentucky reduced the availability of cavities, snags, and small seeds. Stand basal area was reduced from 21 to 17 m2/ha. The abundance of primary and secondary cavity-using birds, as well as neotropical, migrant songbirds, was not affected severely by the cut. Both winter and breeding populations of primary cavity-using birds, breeding great crested flycatchers (Myiarchus crinitus), tufted titmice (Parus hicolor), and Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) were unaffected for 3 years after the cutting. Winter abundance of tufted titmice decreased immediately after the cutting and remained low for at least 3 years. The abundance of breeding Carolina chickadees (Parus carolinensis) decreased for 2 years after the cutting. Of 25 migratory songbird species evaluated, only ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapillus) decreased in number. Hooded warblers (Wi/sonia citrina) increased. Indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea), white-eyed vireos (Viero griseus), and prairie warblers (Dendroica discolor) began using patches of young habitat in the cut area 3 years after the cutting.

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