Piñon-Juniper Birds of Conservation Concern Species Conservation 2 Species Conservation 1 • • • • Pinyon Jay (19) Juniper Titmouse (19) Virginia’s Warbler (19) Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (17) • Black-chinned Sparrow (16) • Black-throated Gray Warbler (16) • Broad-tailed Hummingbird (16) • Gray Vireo (16) • Montezuma Quail (16) • Bushtit (14) • Mountain Chickadee (14) • Western Bluebird (14) Why Are so Many Piñon-Juniper Birds in Trouble? P-J Habitats in New Mexico • Climate – drought – fire – insects • Management practices – livestock grazing – fuelwood harvest – clearing, excessive thinning • Development – oil and gas Juniper Titmouse Juniper Titmouse • • • • • • • • NMACP SC1: Score 19 PIF rangewide population 180,000 PIF NM population 70,000 BBS rangewide trend -0.23 BBS NM trend -1.36 NM Importance 5 NM threats 4 41.8 % of population in NM Photo: Tony Randell, Flickr Breeds in: • Juniper Titmouse Habitat Needs • • • • Late successional woodlands with high juniper overstory cover Large senescent trees and dead limbs High density lateral branches for foraging Low bare ground/rock cover Piñon pines within 11.3 m of nest for foraging • • • • • • Southwest aspect (physiological adaptations to warm, dry conditions) Piñon pines present Higher overstory juniper cover Lower bare ground/rock cover Dead limb density NS Bare ground x dead limb interaction Pavlacky, D.C. and S.H. Anderson. 2001. Condor 103:322-331 Juniper Titmouse Habitat Needs Juniper Titmouse Habitat Use Research Needs • • • • • Used vs. available size and species of nest trees Used vs. available cavities Used vs. available canopy cover at nest Habitat covariates of nesting success Nesting and nest success in thinned vs. unthinned habitat Photo: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Management Actions that May Help Juniper Titmouse in New Mexico • • Maintain late seral-stage woodlands with high density of large, senescent trees Maintain high juniper overstory cover – measured from below on ground: mean used: 37% vs. available 26% – 3% increase in birds for every 1% increase in overstory • Presence of piñon trees much more important than juniper regeneration Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay • • • • • • • • Photo courtesy Nature’s Pics Online, http://www.naturespicsonline.com NMACP SC1: Score 17 PIF rangewide population 510,000 PIF NM population 160,000 BBS rangewide trend -0.09 BBS NM trend -3.17 NM Importance 3 NM threats 4 18% of population in NM Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay Habitat Needs • • • • • Mean abundance increased with increased pine/conifer abundance, Mean annual population variability decreased with increasing pine/conifer abundance and increasing pine species diversity Associated with mast production In NM, WOSJ only one of 11 species studied that was more abundant on ungrazed areas Because of their reliance on masting tree species, many of the management recommendations for Pinyon Jays apply to WOSJ • Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay Research Needs • • • Habitat use, especially related to woodland management: breeding season tree species composition, size distribution, density, canopy cover, subcanopy, ground cover, etc. Habitat covariates of reproductive success Influence of pine vigor and cone production on population dynamics and reproductive success Influence of grazing, thinning, other management on reproductive success and population size Management Actions that May Help Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay in New Mexico • • Always avoid thinning in persistent P-J woodland If thinning is necessary for fuels management: – – – – Leave on average 40% canopy cover Avoid creating “orchards”; i.e., uniformly distributed trees Leave clumps of large nesting and cone-bearing trees; thin “doghair” stands Leave multiple age classes Pinyon Jay Pinyon Jay • • • • • • • • Photo: Cole Wolf NMACP SC1: Score 19 PIF rangewide population 760,000 PIF NM population 200,000 BBS rangewide trend -4.36 BBS NM trend -4.12 NM Importance 4 NM threats 5 30.4% of population in NM Pinyon Jay Habitat Needs: Home Range Scale • • Year-round home ranges are very large, ≈5000 ha Home ranges should include: – multiple areas containing many large, mastproducing piñon trees (>15 cm RCD make cones) – multiple colonysized patches (≈50 ha) of nesting habitat – water sources, especially near nesting colonies • In piñon-juniper habitat, home ranges should include multiple land cover types: – piñon woodland (nesting) and/or – piñon-juniper woodland (nesting) – juniper woodland and savanna (wintering) – may include sagebrush shrubland and/or grassland components (wintering) Cole Wolf Pinyon Jay Habitat Needs: Nesting Colony Scale • Nesting habitat should include land cover types: – piñon woodland and/or – piñon-juniper woodland – relatively high canopy cover • Colony sites should: – be at least 50 ha in area – contain large nest trees – include >20 dense tree clumps that include potential nest trees – be within 3 km of a water source – have minimal fragmentation by roads, well pads, etc. – have minimal noise and foot traffic from March - June Pinyon Jay Habitat Needs: Nest Scale In piñon-juniper habitat, nest-scale habitat should include: – tall piñon or Utah juniper trees – large diameter piñon or Utah juniper trees • Mean 35.4 cm RCD, range 7-102 – high tree density – high canopy cover • mean ground 31% (0-70%) • mean aerial 21% (2-41%) • not basal area – healthy trees with dense foliage Pinyon Jay Habitat Needs – Knowledge Gaps • • • • Impacts of thinning on piñon tree health and cone production (also under drought conditions) Pinyon Jay reproductive success in different habitat types, especially with varying canopy cover and tree vigor Impacts of thinning on Pinyon Jay nesting habitat use and reproductive success Establish standardized measurement methods for canopy cover; establish rules for converting aerial canopy cover from imagery to ground measures Management Actions that may Help Pinyon Jays in New Mexico • Always avoid thinning in persistent P-J woodland • Avoid thinning within 500 m of traditional Pinyon Jay nesting colonies • Providing supplementary food and water may assist flocks during drought or food shortage. • If thinning is necessary for fuels management: – – – – Leave on average 35% canopy cover (ground measured) Avoid creating “orchards” (uniformly distributed trees) Leave clumps and large nesting and cone-bearing trees; thin “doghair” Leave diverse age structure General Management Recommendations for Piñon-Juniper Birds DO: • • • • • Maintain areas of relatively high canopy cover – Pinyon Jay – Gray Vireo – Juniper Titmouse – Gray Flycatcher – Bewick’s Wren Retain significant piñon component – Pinyon Jay – Juniper Titmouse – Gray Flycatcher – Bewick’s Wren – Black-throated Gray Warbler Leave large trees for nesting – Pinyon Jay – Juniper Titmouse – Black-throated Gray Warbler Leave large trees for mast production – Pinyon Jay – Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay Leave large trees for insect foraging – Juniper Titmouse DON’T: • • • • • Clear cut Thin in “orchard” configuration; instead leave clumps containing large-diameter trees Thin trees >15 cm RCD Thin to aerial canopy cover of <25 % Thin to ground canopy cover of <40 % If Conducting Treatments: • • • Know your site. What P-J type do you have? If it’s persistent woodland, thinning is not advisable. Know your purpose. Why are you thinning? Know your goals. What are your target outcomes? – canopy cover – tree size – tree spatial distribution • What is the justification for prescriptions? If Conducting Treatments: • Monitor, monitor, monitor! – Veg measurements before (AIM or modified AIM methods) – Same measurements after – Pre- and post-treatment wildlife surveys (multiple sites and years) – Did you achieve your management goals? – How did veg management actions affect the remaining veg? Any change in mortality rates or tree health? – What effect did veg management have on birds or other target wildlife?
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