Chainsaws, Canebrakes, and Cotton Fields: Sober Thoughts on Silviculture for Songbirds in Bottomland ForestsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Forested wetlands of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) are the most productive of birds, including neotropical migratory birds, of all land uses there. Forest land uses are difficult to maintain in economic competition with annual crops. We compare perspectives of a bird biologist, a wildlife manager, a production forester, and an economic pragmatist to the issue: How can we manage bottomland forests for products, like birds, in addition to economically viable commodities? Our thesis assumes: (a) private lands are the major land ownership category, (b) economically successful timber production generally is prerequisite to existence of forest on private lands, and (c) traditional silvicultural tools can produce bird habitats. Principles for production of specific bird communities in bottomland hardwoods remain to be articulated. We assert that the future of neotropical migratory birds in bottomlands depends upon communication between avian biologists and silviculturists and the innovative capacity of land managers.