With some of the best remaining examples of oak habitats in the Willamette Valley, the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (WVNWRC) has been implementing restoration efforts to reverse the successional trend towards Douglas-fir and maple that is threatening existing oak woodlands. The restoration work has been considered a model for other public and private efforts within the Willamette Valley, and has been showcased through the Oregon Oak Communities Working Group (http://www.oregonoaks.org). Although many oak restoration projects have been initiated over the last several years, and grant recipients typically identify wildlife species that are likely to benefit from their project, measures of success have not included the actual response of wildlife, such as a change in the probability of species occurrence or abundance. Monitoring in the WVNWRC has so far been limited to vegetative and structural changes within the plant community. Hagar and Stern (2001) identified bird species occurring in Willamette Valley oak woodlands that might be expected to benefit from such restoration efforts, including an endemic subspecies of the White-breasted Nuthatch (see Appendix 1 for scientific names of bird and plant species listed in this document), and the Acorn Woodpecker, both of which are species of concern in Oregon. However, empirical data documenting responses of bird assemblages to restoration actions are needed. The goal of this study was to document the effects of a restoration project in an Oregon White Oak woodland on Pigeon Butte in the W.L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Restoration treatments on Pigeon Butte include the removal of shade-tolerant tree species (primarily big-leaf maple and Douglas-fir) to reduce competition with oak trees and to return the stand to a more open structure. The objectives of this ongoing study are to compare abundance, survival, and productivity of diurnal songbird species before and after application of these restoration treatments. Monitoring these vital rates will provide crucial information about the effects of management on survival and productivity (DeSante and Rosenberg, 1998). Therefore, a constant-effort mist-netting project was continued in 2007 and 2008 that had previously collected songbird demographic data at Pigeon Butte from 1998 to 2002. Point-count surveys were conducted in the woodland to build on historical data available for the site (Anderson, 1970; Hagar and Stern, 2001). The data reported here represent 5 years of point count surveys and 6 years of banding before restoration treatment, but only one post-treatment sampling season. Continued monitoring of the bird population is recommended to determine both short-term effects and long-term trends following the habitat alterations that result from restoration treatment.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Summary of bird-survey and banding results at W.L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, 1998-2008