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Prescribed winter burning is a common practice in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) to manage for red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis). The effect of these burns on non-target animals is not well studied. Bachman's sparrows (Aimophila aestivalis) were captured in predominantly longleaf pine stands to be burned and not to be burned at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge (CSNWR) and the Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina. Sparrows were marked with radio-transmitters and monitored daily. Before burning, daily movements did not differ among sites within or among study areas. Additionally, daily movements did not differ by sex or time within the breeding season. After prescribed burning, daily movements were longer for sparrows in burned stands than in unburned stands. All marked sparrows dispersed 1-3 days after a stand was burned and never returned. We found no evidence that dispersing sparrows successfully breed elsewhere. Bachman's sparrow survival rates and reproductive output after burning were lowered. The juxtaposition of seemingly suitable Bachman's sparrow habitat in relation to burned stands influenced both the duration and length of dispersal movements. Managers need to consider the proximity of available habitats when developing burning plans when managing for Bachman's sparrows.
Additional Publication Details
Movements and survival of Bachman's Sparrows in response to prescribed summer burns in South Carolina
Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies