Conservation of Ponderosa Pine Forests for Cavity Nesting Birds
Lewis Woodpecker by Tom Grey

Lewis's Woodpecker by Tom Grey


The Challenge

As a consequence of habitat loss and degradation, several cavity-nesting bird species in western North America have experienced declining populations and even local extirpations due to loss of suitable nesting sites. Past management of ponderosa pine forests through much of western North America has resulted in a decrease of large snags (standing dead trees) required by species of conservation concern such as the Flammulated Owl, White-headed Woodpecker, and Lewis’s Woodpecker. Though these specialized groups of birds play a critical role in the health and biodiversity of forest ecosystems, there has been no coordinated or comprehensive effort to promote conservation activities to benefit this important group of birds. Recent funding and management actions in these forests have focused on restoring habitats and improving forest resiliency to fire through thinning and prescribed burning, but failed to include specific standards to benefit cavity-nesting birds, and in some cases, have actually been detrimental to those species.


ABC Conservation Framework

Efforts to conserve the ponderosa pine forests fall under Conserving Habitats in ABC's conservation framework
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Primary Birds Impacted

Flammulated Owl, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and White-headed Woodpecker.



Improve snag management and snag creation in high priority Ponderosa Pine habitat and population enhancement activities on family-owned forestlands in the Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana in order to enhance habitat and increase populations of target species through management and restoration activities at private landowner sites.

ABC Results

ABC Results Button ABC staff have conducted habitat management at six sites in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, including 80 acres of thinning and understory management and creating snags at five sites with a total projected impact over 320 acres for our priority bird species. ABC implemented snag creation through placement of bark beetle pheromone packets impacting approximately 250 acres on conservation lands owned by a land trust.
ABC Results Button ABC has conducted education and outreach to dozens of landowners owning or managing more than 100,000 acres. We have also provided technical information on habitat management and cavity-nesting bird conservation to State Wildlife and Forestry Agency staff in the four states.
ABC Results Button ABC produced the and distributed 10,000 copies of the booklet Landowners Stories in Bird Conservation: Managing for Cavity-Nesting Birds in Ponderosa Pine Forests in conjunction with the American Forest Foundation and Forest Restoration Partnership, highlighting the efforts of private landowners in implementing bird conservation measures in ponderosa pine forests to help cavity-nesting birds. It features the stories of six landowners who participated in the program.
ABC Results Button ABC has developed maps of priority focal areas for private land ponderosa pine conservation in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
ABC Results Button A nest box program to expand habitat in selected areas that will benefit Lewis’s Woodpecker is ongoing.
ABC Results Button Enhanced landowner knowledge and participation in state and federal incentive programs for private landowners, along with enhanced state wildlife and forestry agency staff technical knowledge and support to deliver conservation on the ground.


What's Next?

What Next Button Expand the geographical scope of work in Montana and Nevada.
What Next Button Add aspen habitats which frequently occur in patches within ponderosa pine forest landscapes.
What Next Button Add aspen-associated species, Red-breasted Sapsucker and Western Bluebird in Nevada and Montana, respectively.
What Next Button Extend private ownership to include land trusts which have become major factors in land conservation in the west.

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