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Sightings of Declining Bird Species Increase as Landowner Improves Habitat

John Meyer and an NRCS representative visit a wooded area that John is improving for wildlife habitat. Click image for full screen view.
John Meyer and an NRCS representative visit a wooded area that John is improving for wildlife habitat.  Full screen view

Chenango County wildlife enthusiast John Myers has both 2010 and 2011 Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) Shrubland contracts on his property in the town of Plymouth. John has increased and enhanced the amount of early successional shrubland on his property through implementation of Early Successional Habitat Development/Management practices such as wildlife mast tree release and pruning, and wildlife selective tree felling.

Apple tree fruit production was increased by first releasing the apple trees from surrounding competition and shading, and then pruning dead, diseased, and dying portions of the trees. John says that management of these mast trees has increased the amount of wildlife on his property and increased the number of woodcock he has seen. Woodcock are an early successional shrubland bird in decline in New York State.

John also completed a selective cut, targeting aspen trees greater than 4” diameter breast height (dbh), within a 24 acre area. Following the tree cutting, root suckers emerged from the aspen root systems and developed into thick shrubby growth which provides excellent cover for ruffed grouse, another early successional bird species in decline. The spring following cutting, John noticed a flush of aspen seedling growth, along with increased numbers of grouse, turkey, and deer. Managing his property to provide quality habitat for all different wildlife species is important to John, and he enjoys seeing the results of the WHIP Shrubland practices.

NRCS offers voluntary programs that provide financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers who are willing to address priority environmental issues by implementing conservation practices. If you are interested in learning more about how conservation programs may protect natural resources on your farm, please contact your local NRCS Office.