Nesting ecology of early-successional birds in restored longleaf and loblolly pine stands

Leah D. Novak, Christopher E. Comer, Warren C. Conway, Daniel G. Scognamillo, Richard D. Gay

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4 Scopus citations


After historic declines in acreage and function, longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannah is considered one of the most important ecological communities in need of protection and restoration along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains. Numerous state and federal programs are available to encourage restoration on private lands; however, the success of these programs in producing quality habitat for longleaf pine savannah specialist species is largely unknown. To assess quality of restored longleaf pine forests in east Texas, we compared nest success, nest survival, and nest site selection of Prairie Warblers (Setophaga discolor), Yellow-breasted Chats (Icteria virens), Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea), and Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), in young (0-5 years) and mid-aged (5-10 years) stands of longleaf pines to these same parameters in young, managed stands of loblolly pines (P. taeda). We monitored 65 nests for all four species combined, where 28 (43%) occurred in longleaf stands, and 37 (58%) occurred in loblolly stands. Of these, cardinals accounted for 35% of all nests, and this was the only species in which we monitored more nests in habitats of longleaf than loblolly. For all focal species, Mayfield nest success estimates were low (4-17%) in stands of both longleaf and loblolly pines, except the values for Prairie Warblers (54%). The primary reason for nest failures was predation (43% of all active nests), where each stand was comprised of mostly (∼80%) edge habitat. Restored young longleaf stands did not appear to provide differential nesting habitat or greater nesting success for our focal species compared to loblolly stands of comparable age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-327
Number of pages14
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Indigo Bunting
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Pinus palustris
  • Prairie Warbler
  • Yellowbreasted Chat
  • longleaf pine
  • nest success


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