Study shows sustainable forestry sustains these 5 birds

Brown-headed Nuthatch
CC BY 2.0 Brown-headed nuthatch , by Matt Tillett from Cumberland, MD, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

A sustainable forest is like a giant nest that protects the birds that live in it. Among forest wildlife, birds are especially important because they serve as early indicators of forest health, water quality, air quality, and climate change. Think of the bird in the forest as the canary in the coal mine.

A recent study focused on how well sustainable forests protect these five species of birds in the Southeastern United States:

  1. Swallow-tailed Kite
  2. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  3. Wood Thrush
  4. Swainson’s Warbler
  5. Prairie Warbler

The study was led by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) with funding from a Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) conservation grant. SFI is an independent, non-profit organization that:

  • Funds research and community building through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program
  • Provides supply chain assurances, produces conservation outcomes, and supports education and community engagement
  • Leads the SFI Forest Management Standard, the only forestry standard in the world that requires participation in conservation research

Forests certified to the SFI Standards serve as living laboratories that help us better understand bird habitat and other important conservation attributes.

In the ABC study, bird habitat value was determined using:

  • Data from SFI-certified forest landowners and other sources
  • Calculated acres of habitat on SFI-certified lands
  • Estimated bird density based on algorithms validated by the scientific community
  • Estimated range of bird population size on SFI-certified lands

Findings from the ABC study confirmed that sustainably managed forests provide healthy habitat and make a significant contribution to the preservation of the five species of birds studied.

The study also pointed to the minimum patch size needed for bird habitat, breeding, and nest success. Since many birds require both young and old forest habitat to survive, these results help landowners understand how to manage for forest products, while enhancing the land’s value for birds.

To learn more about bird conservation research, SFI conservation grants, and the importance of birds to the environment, visit

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