We monitored adult and juvenile breeding season movements and habitat use of radio-tagged Wood Thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina) at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, central Georgia, USA. We investigated the effects that management for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis), thinning and burning >30 year old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) habitat, had on Wood Thrushes, a ground-foraging and midstory-nesting species. Adult Wood Thrush pairs regularly moved long distances between nesting attempts (range 1 to 17,388 m). The only experimental effect we found on adult movements was a decrease in weekly emigration rates (Y ) from thinned and burned compartments after silvicultural management. Adult males preferred riparian hardwoods with sparse to moderate cover and those preferences increased following management. Juveniles remained near their nest site (0 = 177 m, SE = 113) for an average 24 days (SE = 6.3), and then dispersed a mean 2,189 m (SE = 342). Before dispersal, juveniles preferred upland hardwood?pine mixed habitat (P < 0.05) with moderate overstory cover (P < 0.05). We found no management effects on dispersal distances or predispersal habitat use. However, juveniles from thinned and burned compartments dispersed to hardwood habitats with dense cover, whereas birds from control compartments dispersed to pine-dominated habitats with sparse cover. All juveniles dispersed to areas with habitat similar to what they used before dispersal. Small-scale thinning and burning for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers may have had little effect on Wood Thrush habitat use and movements because typical movements were often larger than the scale (stand or compartment) targeted for management.
Additional publication details
Wood Thrush movements and habitat use: effects of forest management for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers