We studied the abundance and productivity of songbirds in prescribed burned and unburned mature (>60 yr) pine forests at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, during 1993-1995. We estimated species abundance, richness, and evenness using data from 312 point counts in 18 burned sites and six unburned sites. We measured gross habitat features in 0.04-ha circles centered on each point count station. We calculated productivity estimates at nests of seven of the most common nesting species. Habitat components we measured in 1-, 2-, and 3-yr post-burn sites were similar, but most components differed between burned and unburned sites. Although 98 species were detected during point counts, we report only on the 46 species that nested in the area and were detected >10% of the counts in either habitat class. Twenty-one species preferred burned sites and six preferred unburned sites. Avian species richness and evenness were similar for burned and unburned sites. Burned sites were preferred for nesting over unburned sites. Only nine nests of six species were found in unburned sites. Productivity estimates were low in burned sites. One or more eggs hatched in only 59 of 187 nests monitored, and an average of only 0.82 chicks per nest were estimated to have fledged. Predation was the most common probable cause for nest failure, ranging from 45% in the Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) to 64% in the Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra). Because the sources of predation at the refuge are unknown, future research should address this issue.
Additional publication details
Abundance and reproduction of songbirds in burned and unburned pine forests of the Georgia Piedmont