Reforestation of bottomland hardwoods on lands managed for wildlife or timber production has historically emphasized planting heavy-seeded oaks (Quercus spp.). Although techniques have been developed for successful oak establishment, these plantings often require 5 or more years before establishing a 3-dimensional forest structure. We suggest that lands planted to fast-growing early-successional species, in combination with oaks, provide: (1) more expedient benefits to Neotropical migratory birds; (2) greater forest diversity; (3) more rapid economic return to landowners; and (4) enhanced public relations. Under good growing conditions, and with effective weed control, some fast-growing species can develop a substantial 3-dimensional forest structure in as few as 2 or 3 years. Forest-breeding Neotropical migratory birds use stands planted with early successional species several years before sites planted solely with oaks. Where desirable, succession to forests with a high proportion of oak species can be achieved on sites initially planted with fast-growing species through silvicultural management.
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Bottomland hardwood reforestation for neotropical migratory birds: are we missing the forest for the trees?