Logged and Burned Forests Have Similar Birds

The types of birds living in a young forest depend not so much on whether the site was previously logged or burned, but more on the makeup of tree cover left behind. In southern British Columbia's Rocky Mountains, on dry, cool sites of the Montane Spruce (MS) and Engelmann Spruce - Subalpine Fir (ESSF) biogeoclimatic zones, birds more densely occupy areas that have been logged rather than burned.

The number of species and the composition of bird communities, though, are similar on both types of sites.

Variations in the abundance of individual bird species are associated with the density of residual, overstory coniferous trees in the MS zone. Whereas in the ESSF zone, it is the understory coniferous tree density that determines bird communities. Seven bird species are most prevalent among broadleaf trees in the MS.

Coniferous tree densities on sites disturbed 7 to 45 years earlier range up to 320 overstory and 832 understory trees/ha. The spectrum provides habitat suited to mature forest birds such as golden-crowned kinglet on some sites, and birds preferring open canopies, including Townsend's solitaire, on others. Researchers conclude that for managed forests, the key to accommodating a wide range of bird species is providing variation across a landscape in the types and densities of trees left behind after logging.


A. Kari Stuart-Smith, John P. Hayes and Jim Schieck. 2006. The influence of wildfire, logging and residual tree density on bird communities in the northern Rocky Mountains. Forest Ecology and Management. 231(1-3): 1-17.

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