Habitat for Birds is Never a One on One Approach

Allegheny National Forest Visitors BureauBRADFORD, PA – May 8, 2018 – Songbirds and upland birds of the forest depend on good habitat to live, reproduce, and raise young. Much of that good habitat can be created with good sustained wood harvest across the forest landscape. But up here in the north country, a weakness in the life cycle is finding enough good mast (berries and nuts) for food. Berries and nuts fuel fall migrations of songbirds and assist year-round residents in putting on fat reserves to make it through a harsh winter.

With that premise in mind, the Allegheny Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society has developed multi-year plans for all their habitat projects. It’s never work one year and then move to a different project. “When you plant something one year, you really need to be following up in later years and see what is surviving well, what didn’t survive, what should be re-planted. Many times these shrubs we plant spend three years just putting down a good root system. You think they are not going to live and produce berries, but all of a sudden, they just take off and start doing well. It may take up to five years. That is why we never initiate any planting projects unless we know we can commit to the follow-up work,” says Mary Hosmer, Habitat Coordinator for the Allegheny Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society.

Volunteers for the Allegheny Chapter just finished maintenance work in early May on ten fence cribs on lands open to public hunting on Hancock Forest Management property in McKean County. The maintenance work involved repair of fence cribs that protect seedlings from deer browsing and then making certain the fence cribs were well stocked with plants that look like they will be producing foods for birds. The seedlings planted into cribs that needed additional plants were provided by the PGC Howard Nursery. Volunteers during early May were John and Bonnie Orr from Kushequa, Brenda Walker from Clermont, John Dzemyan from Smethport, and Mary Hosmer from Johnsonburg.

Future work for the habitat-oriented Allegheny Chapter for 2018 includes inventory work for fill-in crib planting on Hancock Forest Management lands, and then during the summer of 2018, daylighting of cribs to make certain the shrubs get enough sunlight to grow. All volunteers are welcome.

Call 814-512-2101 or email wlhab@windstream.net if you want to be involved in any future Ruffed Grouse Society habitat for wildlife projects.

The Ruffed Grouse Society was founded in 1961 to promote and increase awareness of young forest management and to maintain suitable habitat that supports healthy populations of ruffed grouse, woodcock, deer and many songbird species that depend on forest diversity to survive and prosper.