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Pacific Northwest Research Station
Blue Mountains National Resources Institute

Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory
1401 Gekeler Lane
La Grande, OR 97850

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BMNRI Home > Publications > Abstract: Response of Breeding Bird Communities To Wildfire



Response of breeding bird communities to wildfire in the Oregon Blue Mountains: the first three years following the Twin Lakes Fire, 1995-1997. Presented at Wildlife and Fire in the Pacific Northwest—Research, Policy and Management, annual meeting of the Northwest Section of the Wildlife Society, Spokane, Washington, April 1998.

by R. Sallabanks (Sustainable Ecosystems Institute)

During this three-year study, 8,399 bird detections representing 74 bird species were recorded. Overall, wildfire was found to reduce species diversity whenever burn intensity was highest. Fourteen of the 23 commonest species were found to have abundances significantly affected by fire. While most species were negatively affected by fire (e.g., golden-crowned kinglet, mountain chickadee), a few cavity-nesting birds, especially the hairy woodpecker, mountain bluebird, and black-backed woodpecker, were found to respond positively to fire. The increased availability of snags and open foraging habitat have been identified as potential causal mechanisms explaining these abundance patterns. Two species of management concern, the black-backed woodpecker and the olive-sided flycatcher, both increased in abundance the first two years post-fire, but only the flycatcher has continued to increase for the third straight year. The role of wildfire in creating patches that gradually succeed to mature forests may be critical to birds like the olive-sided flycatcher; fire suppression policy may in part explain its declining overall abundance in recent years. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of wildfire events on bird communities of the Blue Mountains.

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station, Blue Mountains National Resources Institute
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:42 CST

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