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Enhancing Bachman's Sparrow Habitat via Management of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

Sheldon Plentovich, James W. Tucker, Jr., Nicholas R. Holler and Geoffrey E. Hill
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 347-354
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802298
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802298
Page Count: 8
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Enhancing Bachman's Sparrow Habitat via Management of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers
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Abstract

Bachman's sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis) and red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) use mature pine woodlands characterized by well-spaced pines, an open midstory, and a dense understory of grasses and forbs. Populations of the Bachman's sparrow began declining in the 1930s, with both a dramatic retraction in geographic distribution and the extinction of many local populations. Current land management practices in the southeastern United States often focus on the habitat requirements of the red-cockaded woodpecker without considering other species with similar habitat requirements (i.e., Bachman's sparrow). We examined habitat requirements of the Bachman's sparrow on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to determine if management practices directed at recovery of red-cockaded woodpeckers are providing Bachman's sparrows with suitable habitat. Comparisons between active red-cockaded woodpecker clusters occupied (n = 8) and unoccupied (n = 13) by Bachman's sparrows showed that Bachman's sparrows selected areas with a dense understory of grasses and sparse midstory vegetation. Areas suitable for red-cockaded woodpeckers were not always suitable for Bachman's sparrows. Red-cockaded woodpeckers appear more tolerant of a hardwood midstory and do not require a dense cover of grasses and forbs. Prescribed burning is key for development and maintenance of the dense herbaceous understory preferred by Bachman's sparrow. In areas managed for red-cockaded woodpeckers, frequent (3-5 yr) burning early in the growing season appears the best way to increase habitat suitability for Bachman's sparrows.

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