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Early Successional Habitat


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The Recipe for Bobwhite Quail, Turkey, Songbirds, Pollinators and So Much More. A presentation by David A. Bryan, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist for the VT Conservation Management Institute.

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Early Successional Habitat

  1. 1. EARLY SUCCESSIONAL HABITATThe Recipe for Bobwhite Quail, Turkey, Songbirds, Pollinators and So Much More… David A. Bryan Private Lands Wildlife Biologist VT Conservation Management Institute Quail Action Plan
  2. 2. Outline Definition of Early Successional Habitat Declines of Early Successional Wildlife Species Examples of Species Directly Impacted  Northern Bobwhite Quail  Songbirds  Pollinators Development of Habitat on Your Land  Problems and Solutions
  3. 3. So What is “Succession”?Natural Progression of Plants over Time Early Successional
  4. 4. Early Successional Habitat The plant community that emerges after land is set back to a bare ground state Looks “messy” Primary Components:  Native Weeds  Wildflowers  Native Grasses  Thickets  Shrubs
  5. 5. So Why Does This Habitat Even Matter to Us? Let’s Look at the Wildlife
  6. 6. Northern Bobwhite By Bob Schamerhorn,
  7. 7. The Decline of Bobwhite Global Population as of 2007: ~5.5 Million An 82% Decline from ~31 Million in 1967 Misconceptions – Hunting, Predators Why?  HABITAT, HABITAT, HABITAT!  Other relatively small issues
  8. 8. Declines in Virginia
  9. 9. Declines in Virginia
  10. 10. Declines in Virginia
  11. 11. Declines in Virginia
  12. 12. So the Quail Aren’t Doing Well… What About the Songbirds?
  13. 13. Prairie Warbler
  14. 14. Indigo Bunting
  15. 15. Gray Catbird By Bob Schamerhorn,
  16. 16. Field Sparrow By Bob Schamerhorn,
  17. 17. Grasshopper Sparrow By Bob Schamerhorn,
  18. 18. Eastern Towhee
  19. 19. Eastern Kingbird By Bob Schamerhorn,
  20. 20. Eastern Meadowlark Web Photo, Gene
  21. 21. Breeding Bird Trends by Habitat Type BBS Data: Eastern United States (1966 - 2005)
  22. 22. Breeding Bird Trends by Habitat Type BBS Data: Virginia (1966 - 2005)
  23. 23. VA BBS Results: Grassland BirdsGrasshopper Sparrow Eastern Meadowlark Brad Sillasen -1.9% /year -3.0% /year pastures, hay fields
  24. 24. VA BBS Results: Early SuccessionalBirds Northern -3.78 Bobwhite Yellow Warbler -3.75 Field Sparrow -3.08 Gray Catbird -2.37 Eastern Towhee -1.65 Indigo Bunting -0.67 Shrub/scrub, old fields, ROWs, regen. clearcuts
  25. 25. Other Species Impacted Pollinators  Bees  Butterflies  Bats  Other Insects From  Hummingbirds Extremely Important for Food Sources Helpful to our Native and Ornamental Gardens
  26. 26. The Common Denominator: Early Successional Habitat Why is it a Decreasing Habitat?  Clean Agriculture  Decline in Family Farms  Sprawl Wide variety of species  Northern Bobwhite Quail  Eastern Cottontail Rabbit and Small Mammals  Pollinators – Butterflies, Bees, Hummingbirds  Migratory and Breeding Songbirds
  27. 27. Case Study: Quail Management What do they need? Remember – Quail Habitat is Important to Other Species
  28. 28. Food Chick Diet: Largely Insects  Pick wildflowers:  Plains and Lanceleaf Coreopsis  Black-eyed Susan  Partridge Pea  Goldenrods  Coneflowers  Primroses  Native Sunflowers Plant large plots, not just patches in a garden, for best results
  29. 29. Resources for selecting native plants for pollinating insects: “Pollinator Syndromes” Pollinator Color Shape Scent Narrow tube with Butterflies Bright, red & purple spur, wide landing Faint, fresh pad Pale & dull, red Strong, sweet, Moths Regular or tubular purple, pink, white emitted at night Bright, white, yellow, Shallow, landing Bees blue, ultraviolet red, Fresh, mild platform, tubular purple, pink, white Regular, bowl- Dull, white, green, Strong, musty, Bats shaped, closed purple emitted at night during day Large, funnel-like, Bright, red, orange, Birds cups, strong perch None white support
  30. 30. Food cont. Adult Diet: Mainly seeds and fruits from legumes, shrubs, trees, crops  Wildflowers  Partridge Pea  Crops  Soybeans  Millets Not the limiting factor, so don’t spend all of your time on food plots alone
  31. 31. Habitat Needs Desirable Grass, Forbs and Legumes – Seeds and Insects Early Successional Vegetation – Brooding/Nesting Woody Covey Headquarters – Protection
  32. 32. 1st Element: Nesting Cover Ideal Nesting Cover – Herbaceous cover consisting of bunch grasses with forbs and low growing shrubby cover with the last year’s grass growth available (at least 12” tall) Little bluestem, big bluestem, indiangrass, sideoats grama, broomsedge bluestem, ragweed, native forbs. Also benefits nesting songbirds, rabbits, wild turkey, white-tailed deer (for bedding), etc.
  33. 33. BENEFITS OF BUNCH GRASSES Cooper’s Hawk’s Eye-View Quail’s Eye-View
  34. 34. 2nd Element: Brood HabitatIdeal Brood Habitat – Plantcommunity (at least 40% of thearea) made up of annual forbs,legumes, and weeds. Must containbare ground (25-50% exposed soil)underneath a foliage canopy.Brood habitat will contain insectswhich are the most important fooditem for nesting hens and chicks.
  35. 35. Bareground withGood Canopy Cover
  36. 36. 3 Element: Covey Headquarters rd Consists of woody shrubs, low-growing trees, down tree structures, feathered edge. Ground cover within Headquarters must be sparse. 50 ft. X 30 ft. at a Minimum – 1,500 sq. ft.
  37. 37. Edge Feathering
  38. 38. What Limits Wildlife Use on Your Property?Let’s Look at a Series of Problems and Solutions
  39. 39. Problem: fescue From
  40. 40. Fescue field border with woody cover “ The Great Quail Barrier” Also bad for Rabbits, Cattle, Mares, etc.Solution: Kill the Fescue, Go Native
  41. 41. Converting Fescue to Native Grasses  Best way to convert is a fall/spring system  In September, hay the grass to take off old growth and wait for it to grow up to 6 inches tall  In October, hit the fescue with 2.0 quarts per acre of glyphosate (e.g. RoundUp Ultra®)  Next February, prep the field for planting  Prescribed burning  Dragging with a Chain Harrow, Log, etc.
  42. 42. Converting Fescue to Native Grasses  Decide on second herbicide spray  Option 1 – Wait until grass re-emerges and grows to 6 inches; spray with glyphosate at 2.0 quarts per acre; burn or drag  Option 2 – Plant and then spray with imazapic (e.g. Plateau® or Panoramic®), a pre-emergent herbicide at 4.0 oz/acre  Plant native grasses in early March  Use native grass drill  Use regular drill with a special native seed box  Broadcast with a carrier (e.g. pelletized lime) at a rate of 20:1 if planting burry seeds  All depends upon species you are using  Maintain!
  43. 43. HerbicideApril 2004 May 2005 August 2005(Harper et al. 2007)
  44. 44. Problem: Limiting factor on most land is shrubby cover and diversity!Solution: Plant Native Shrub Islands or Hedgerows, Do Edge Feathering Suggestions: Winterberry Holly, Northern Spicebush, Indigobush, Chickasaw Plum, Black Chokeberry, Red Chokeberry
  45. 45. Problem:Habitats Spread Far Apart, Little Connection
  46. 46. Solution: Interspersion
  47. 47. Woody Headquarters Grain, Forbs, GrassesForbs, Legumes &Grasses
  48. 48. All habitat elements close together Woody HeadquartersGrass: Nesting Early-Successional: Crops
  49. 49. ..And All Components as Close Together as Possible! Woody Covey Headquarters Shrubby Cover Native Warm Season Grasses,Forbs and Legumes: Nesting and Brooding
  50. 50. Problem:“I want to help but I can’t give up large expanses of cropland, hayland or pastureland for the wildlife”
  51. 51. Solution: Field BordersMinimum of 35 feet up to 120 feet can be very helpful to wildlife… can be native weeds, native warm season grasses, shrubs or a combination
  52. 52. Forest Soft Edge Trees/Shrubs Tall Grasses and ForbsShort Vegetation& Bare Ground
  53. 53. Problem:I Created All of this Habitat 10 Years Ago – What Happened?
  54. 54. The Native Grass Delusion Myth: Install and We’re Good Fact: Unmanaged native warm-season grass fields will contain little brood cover (bare ground) and will eventually convert into forest
  55. 55. Solution: Regular management will maintaingrass, forb and legume “food groups” and essential
  56. 56. Disking Disturbs soils Removes or chops litter Annuals need soil disturbance  Provides plant diversity  Promotes bug diversity
  57. 57. Prescribed Burn Another Important Management Tool Certified Burn Managers Burn on a rotation  1/3 of the habitat each year Promotes areas of bare ground  Prime bugging areas
  58. 58. Shrubby CoverREST BURNED
  59. 59. Conclusions: What to Do? Native Warm Season Grass Plantings  Field Borders  Meadows Conversion of Fescue to Natives Shrub Plantings Regular Disturbance of Early Successional Habitat  Prescribed Burning  Light Disking
  60. 60. What’s Next? If Interested in More Information  Contact James Barnes at PEC  Contact Me:   (540) 899-9492 ext. 101 THANK YOU! QUESTIONS?