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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Whether you live in New England, the Midwest, the South, the Rocky Mtn States or the West Coast, below is A PRIMER ON MANAGING YOUR WOODLOT WITH BIRDS AND WILDLIFE IN MIND from the Vermont Woods and Wildlife.Org........."Of special interst to New England landowners is the fact that your forests are home to some of the highest concentration of bird species breeding in the continental United States—meaning your region not only provides rich, essential habitat for birds, but also for all local wildlife species"............. "As a result, small landowners throughout he region have an essential role to play int enhancing wildlife conservation"

Managing Your Woodlot with Birds and Wildlife in Mind

Want to learn about the health and productivity of your land? Birds can help! Birds are great indicators of your land’s health because they are especially sensitive to change and stress in and around their homes. For that reason, birds will also be one of the first to indicate that your actions are truly increasing the health of your woods and its inhabitants.

 A healthy bird population points to healthy woods, so managing your land with birds in mind does not just benefit birds. Active maintenance of bird habitat will make your woods healthier, more resilient, and more productive. Not to mention, healthier woods also provide homes for a wider variety of wildlife such as black bears, bobcats, and eastern red-backed salamanders. An added bonus of a healthy bird population is free insect damage control, which means less investment in insecticides and bug zappers for you!

 You can play an active role by beginning to maintain your woodland with birds in mind. With careful planning, you can have productive working woodlands that provide habitat for many of the bird and wildlife species that call Vermont home. A forester or wildlife biologist can help you determine which actions are most suitable for the unique conditions on your land. Here are some actions you might take on your land and why they are important: 

 Inventory and map your land for important habitat features. Learn which resources already exist on your land! Take your mapping even further by looking at the landscape beyond your property lines to understand how your land fits into the big picture. Google Earth and Google Maps are great sources of free, aerial imagery. also provides the tools you need to not only map and journal about your woodlot but, you can also set goals, communicate with natural resource professionals and find additional support. 

Managing Your Woodlot with Birds and Wildlife in Mind  Leave dead and dying wood standing and other woody material on the forest floor for food and shelter. Snags (standing, dead trees) and downed trees serve as resting, nesting, and food sources for about 40 species of birds. Many birds will use cavities as nesting sites and the insects that thrive on snags as a food source. Birds of prey will use snags for hunting viewpoints. Logs serve as drumming sites for ruffed grouse and piles of finer woody material on the ground can be helpful for protecting regeneration from browsing by deer and moose. Leaf litter and woody material also provide moist habitats for tasty critters that many forest birds will feed on. Leaf litter often looks messy to us, but it is home to an important food source for forest birds.

  Maintain native trees and shrubs that produce fruits, seeds, or nuts. These trees provide a great food source for birds living on, or passing through your land. They will be especially important during fall migrations and during winter for birds that remain year-round. Examples of trees include serviceberry, raspberry, black cherry, and dogwood. Encouraging the growth of white pine, hemlock and other softwoods will also provide important cover for wintering birds. 

Avoid breaking up forest patches by limiting roads and trails. Large forest patches increase the diversity of birds your woods can support. You can maximize “unbroken” forest habitat by considering how much edge space your forest has compared to the interior forest area. Circular and square forest patches provide greater unbroken forest habitat than oblong or rectangular shaped forest because there is less edge space. It is also important to limit interruption of forest habitat by minimizing the presence of roads and wide trails and by maintaining tree cover over existing roads and trails. 

Remove invasive plants because they don’t support local wildlife. The fruits of many invasive plants have lower nutritional value than natives, which is especially troubling for the thousands of migratory birds passing through Vermont in need of nourishing food for their journeys. Birds will build nests in invasive plants as well, which may make them more vulnerable to predators. What’s more, non-native, invasive plants often outcompete and reduce the presence of important native plants. Native plants provide a nutritious food source in the form of fruit and seeds, are home to other tasty treats like insects and spiders, and provide a safe space for birds to build their nests. 

Exotic Asian Buckthorn

Create piles of brush and branches for wildlife shelter. You can create brush piles by stacking downed tree limbs. These piles are a great source of shelter for many critters that call your land home, especially during the winter. 

 Maintain a variety of tree and shrub species, ages, and sizes. Maintaining a diverse woodland will provide habitat for a larger number of bird species. Additionally, providing numerous types of tree species will allow your woodland and its inhabitants to be more resilient to change and disturbances. Diverse woodlands can often look messy to us, but complex, messy forest structure can be a signature of healthy woodlands and key to supporting a wide diversity of living things in your woods.

Thin your woods or conduct a harvest to enhance bird and wildlife habitat. Thinning describes the act of removing less desirable trees from your woods. The goal is to promote the growth of other trees by decreasing the density of trees. As a result, competition for resources decreases, contributing to the health of the remaining trees. Remember, healthy woods lead to healthy wildlife populations! 

 Minimize harvesting and other disruptive activities during bird breeding season (May to mid-July). Most Vermont birds breed throughout the spring and early summer. Delaying harvesting and other disruptive activities until after the middle of July allows chicks to leave the nest before the disturbance begins. Delayed harvesting can also protect forest soils from damage. 

 Create a small forest opening of small trees, bushes, and grasses for nesting and food sources. Woods made up of tree seedlings and saplings less than fifteen years old are referred to as early successional habitat. Ideally, these young forests should be at least two acres in size. If you do encourage early successional habitat, be careful not to break up older interior forest patches by doing so.

Restore areas along streams and creeks. The wet edges along creeks and streams are referred to as riparian areas. Riparian areas are crucial to countless plant and animal species. Many birds use riparian buffers during both migration and breeding season. Riparian areas that are at least 50 feet wide will meet the baseline needs of various songbirds, but areas that are 200 to 300 feet will provide much more preferable habitat for songbirds. 

 Avoid drastic changes (sharp edges) between wooded and non-wooded habitats. An “edge” is a place where two different types of habitats meet. Softer edges have a gradual change in vegetation height near forest edges. Predators and nest parasites are the greatest threat to birds within 150 feet of the forest edge. Buffering forests with soft edges will keep birds nesting near the forest edge safe.

A gradual "soft edge from forest to field rather than an abrupt
field directly adjacent to woodlands

 Learn to identify the birder’s dozen. The birder’s dozen is a great starting point for learning about birds in your woods. They are taken from among a selection of the 40 forest songbirds that have been identified by Audubon Vermont as high priority for protection. These 12 birds were selected because they are simple to identify by sight and/or sound, use a wide range of woodland habitat types collectively, are showing a decline in their global populations or are at risk for decline, and have a significant portion of their global population breeding in New England’s forests. 

 Talk with your neighbors about working together for birds and wildlife. Talking with your neighbors will allow you to maximize benefits for birds and wildlife across the boundaries of your land. Perhaps you and your neighbors can provide a broader variety of resources by combining your efforts. By getting your neighbors involved, your combined efforts will have an even bigger impact. 

For more information please contact:  This fact sheet was synthesized from informational materials created by Audubon Vermont: Audubon Vermont &Verm ont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. (2012).

 Managing your woods with birds in mind: A Vermont landowner’s guide. Huntington, VT: 

Audubon Vermont. Audubon Vermont. (n.d.). Forest bird initiative [Brochure]. Huntington, VT: Audubon Vermont. Audubon Vermont. (n.d.). 

Bird-friendly management recommendations. Huntington, VT:

 Audubon Vermont. Audubon Vermont & Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. (2011). 

Vermont forests a critical part of global bird conservation effort


Vermont Forest Industry Network
Dan and Pat Stone are conducting a timber harvest on their 132-acre tree farm in Wallingford that will welcome migratory birds to their southern Vermont property for decades to come. Photos by Erica Houskeeper
by Christine McGowan, Forest Program Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund(link is external) This spring, when the Black-throated Blue Warblers, Wood Thrush, and Scarlet Tanagers make their annual return to Vermont from Central and South America, they will find new habitats for nesting and breeding in Vermont thanks to the Woods, Wildlife and Warblers(link is external) program – a partnership between wildlife biologists, foresters and private landowners in Vermont.
“Active and thoughtful management of Vermont’s forests is one of the best strategies for conserving bird habitat,” said Steve Hagenbuch, a conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont(link is external). “Vermont forests are a critical part of the global bird conservation effort. The birds make this incredible journey year after year, returning to the same area to raise the next generation.”
Managing a forest for wildlife
One of the most important summer nesting habitats for migratory birds, Vermont leads the nation in birding participation, generating $123 million in wildlife watching according to a 2006 study by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. But although forests cover more than two-thirds of Vermont today, that was not the case 100 years ago and past land clearing continues to impact wildlife habitat.
A Black-throated Blue Warbler, photo courtesy of Audubon Vermont by Megumi Aita.
In the late 1800s more than 70 percent of land in Vermont had been cleared, primarily for agriculture. Over time, Mother Nature has returned the fields to forests, but a majority of trees in Vermont are in the same 60-100 year age group, not ideal for songbirds looking to nest and breed.  “A healthy forest is structurally complex, with a diverse mix of tree species and ages,” said Hagenbuch. “Downed trees, saplings, legacy trees with large canopies, and new growth are all equally important to wildlife habitat.”
“The number one reason landowners manage their forests is for wildlife,” said Ema Johnson of the American Forest Foundation(link is external)Woods, Wildlife and Warblers aims to connect private landowners with foresters and biologists to provide technical recommendations on how to enhance bird habitat as part of an overall forest management plan. These partnerships are critical to the success of the program, as about 80 percent of Vermont’s forested land is privately owned. Currently, the program has engaged with more than 500 landowners who collectively own more than 51,600 acres. Of those, 48 landowners are actively working with professional foresters and wildlife biologists to improve habitat on more than 5,000 acres of land.
Habitat for heat
Among those landowners are Pat and Dan Stone of Wallingford, Vermont. The Stones are conducting a timber harvest on their 132-acre tree farm that will welcome migratory birds to their southern Vermont property for decades to come. With recommendations from Audubon Vermont and local foresters Kathy Beland and Frank Hudson, their management plan includes specific instruction for increasing the structural diversity of their forest, offering more opportunities for birds to nest, breed and find food. Among other strategies, the Stones are clearing small, one- and two-acre areas to make room for new growth, creating holes in the canopy to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, and leaving downed trees and brush piles on the ground to mimic nesting conditions for certain species, such as the White-throated Sparrow.
The Stone’s harvest includes the removal of softwoods such as pine, which caught the attention of Chris Brooks at Vermont Wood Pellet Company(link is external) in North Clarendon. As low-grade pine is pulled out of the Stone property, the logs are transported over to Chris to be processed into premium wood pellets. The pine is hyper-compressed into wood pellets, producing a highly efficient, renewable source of local heat. In this case, the pellets will be sent just a few towns over to warm the residents of an assisted living facility.
“The Stone’s management plan is not only self-serving,” said Johnson, “it’s serving the entire community. There are a lot of jobs involved here, and the economic impact is all local.”Vermont’s forest products industry generates an annual economic output of $1.5 billion and supports 10,000 jobs in forestry, logging, processing, specialty woodworking, construction and wood heating.
Logger Thad Premski of Black Bear Tree, Land & Forest with forester Kathy Beland on the Stone property

The new Vermont Forest Industry Network creates the space for industry professionals from across the entire supply chain and trade association partners throughout the state to build stronger relationships and collaboration throughout the industry, including helping to promote new and existing markets for Vermont wood products, from high quality furniture to construction material to thermal biomass products such as chips and pellet

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