New Data Show Efforts to Restore Habitat for Sage Grouse Benefits Songbirds, Too



Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee are both sagebrush-dependent birds and considered species of conservation concern. Photo courtesy of Jacob Spendelow.

New Data Show Efforts to Restore Habitat for Sage Grouse Benefits Songbirds, Too

Posted by Tim Griffiths, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, on September 9, 2015 at 2:30 PM See report here:

By David Naugle, Science Advisor, Sage Grouse Initiative

Restoring sagebrush ecosystems not only benefits ranching and sage grouse but other wildlife, too. New data show that populations of Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee, two sagebrush-dependent songbirds, climbed significantly in places where invading conifer trees were removed. Three years after removing trees, Brewer’s sparrow numbers increased by 55 percent and green-tailed towhee numbers by 81 percent relative to areas not restored, according to a new report released by the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI). These two songbirds, both identified as species of conservation concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), serve as early indicators of the effectiveness of restoration work. Aaron Holmes, Director of Northwest Wildlife Science and a Research Associate with Point Blue Conservation Science, led the research, assessing the biological outcome of songbirds after habitat restoration in the Warner Mountains near Adel, Oregon. Population increases each year after trees were removed suggest that growth in the populations of these two species may increase even more with time as more displaced birds increase their use of restored habitat. “The number of these songbirds using the restored shrublands was more than double that of adjacent areas that had not yet been cut, telling us that Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee preferred the open shrublands created through conifer removal,” Holmes said…..

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