June 2018

Vol. 46, No. 3

Conservation of Forest Birds in Massachusetts

Jeff Ritterson


Approximately ten acres of early successional habitat in Leominster, Massachusetts. Species using this habitat included Prairie Warblers and Field Sparrows. Photo was taken two-three years post-treatment. Photo by Jeff Ritterson.

Massachusetts is the eighth most forested state in the country. It is also the third most densely populated, with many people living among the state's approximately three million acres of forest. These forests provide residents with a range of ecosystem goods and services. For example, forests influence the quality and quantity of drinking water, provide flood and erosion control, sequester carbon which has climate change implications, and yield forest products such as timber and maple syrup. Of course, forests also support a diversity of wildlife that deliver additional goods and services and provide recreational opportunities, such as birdwatching.

The soils and climate of Massachusetts support vigorous forest growth. Following a disturbance, a forest will naturally regenerate, a process that may begin with herbaceous plants and perennial wildflowers and continue with the establishment of woody shrubs and saplings. Eventually a tall canopy of trees will form and be easily recognized as a forest. This successional process influences habitat conditions and what species of birds inhabit a forest.

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