Silvicultural alternatives to clear-cutting have been suggested to promote development, retention, or creation of late-successional features such as large trees, multilayered canopies, snags, and logs. We assessed bird response to three silvicultural alternatives to clear-cutting that retained structural features found in old Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) forests and that imitated natural disturbance regimes more closely than did traditional clear-cutting: (1) small-patch group selection treatment representing a low-intensity disturbance; (2) two-story treatment, representing a moderate to high-intensity disturbance; and (3) modified clear-cut treatment, representing a high-intensity disturbance. We counted diurnal breeding birds 1 yr prior to and 2 yr after harvest to estimate effects of the silvicultural treatments on bird communities compared with uncut controls. The small-patch group selection treatment was most similar in species composition to control stands. The two-story treatment was more similar to the modified clear-cut treatment. Ten bird species remained abundant following the small-patch group selection treatment. They declined in abundance in modified clearcuts and two-story stands. These species included four neotropical migratory species and five species with restricted geographic ranges and habitat associations. Nine species increased in response to moderate and/or high-intensity disturbances. This group included a larger proportion of species that were habitat generalists. Silvicultural treatments imitating low-intensity disturbances were most effective in retaining bird communities associated with mature forest; high-intensity disturbances such as the two-story and modified clear-cut treatments greatly altered bird community composition. Bird responses to the silvicultural treatments that we studied indicate that a variety of stand types is needed to meet needs of all species.
Additional publication details
Breeding bird responses to three silvicultural treatments in the Oregon Coast Range