Modified seed tree harvest visible in top left of photo.  The proximity to the wetland in the top right likely helped influence the number of species present.  photo by William Kallesser

Modified seed tree harvest visible in top left of photo. The proximity to the wetland in the top right likely helped influence the number of species present.  Photo by William Kallesser

(by Steve Kallesser for Gracie & Harrigan Consulting Foresters, Inc.)

In 2012, Gracie & Harrigan discussed the USDA NRCS‘s Working Lands For Wildlife (WLFW) program with several of our clients. In our area, WLFW funds projects to improve habitat for either golden-winged warbler or bog turtle on private lands.  Three client properties (two of which are leased by the Hudson Farm Club) accepted proposals to conduct habitat work to benefit golden-winged warbler and “other species sensitive to canopy closure.”  In 2013, the first modified seed tree harvest was conducted on the Hudson Farm Club properties, followed by harvests at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco (owned and operated by the Northern NJ Council, BSA) and elsewhere on the Hudson Farm Club properties in 2014.

This May and June, the sites were surveyed for bird species by the DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program.  The 2013 harvest area on the Hudson Farm contained 34 different bird species, of which 16 are species of special concern, regional concern, or uncommon.  The 2014 harvest area on Hudson Farm contained 34 different bird species, of which 15 are species of special concern, regional concern, or uncommon.  At Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, 31 different bird species were identified, of which 17 are species of special concern, regional concern, or uncommon.

Two items of note.  (1) These sites are remarkable because they were not necessarily supposed to be attractive to species that require young forest until about 5 years after harvest.  To see species — especially forest ground-nesting birds such as black-and-white warbler — using sites that are barely 2 years post-harvest hopefully means that we are doing something right.  The site had some advance regeneration, but also a dense carpet-like layer of lowbush blueberry with some highbush blueberry that has responded well post-harvest.  (2) Given golden-winged warbler’s preference for young forest within a larger forested matrix, there was some concern regarding these harvests and avoidance of the harvest areas by forest interior birds.  Interestingly enough, one of the few species that was observed at all three harvest areas was scarlet tanager, a forest interior bird.