Tree-species preferences of foraging insectivorous birds: Implications for floodplain forest restoration

Aaron P. Gabbe, Scott K. Robinson, Jeffrey D. Brawn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The tree-species composition of forests can be an important component of habitat selection by breeding birds. We examined tree-species use by observing the foraging behavior of 13 species of foliage-gleaning birds in floristically diverse floodplain forests in southern Illinois in 1997 and 1998. Twelve of 13 bird species foraged selectively with respect to tree species. The Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica) and Cerulean Warbler (D. cerulea) were the most selective species, whereas the Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, and Eastern Tufted Titmouse (Vireo flavifrons, V. olivaceus, and Baeolophus bicolor, respectively) were the least selective. Three tree species were strongly preferred by most of the bird community: kingnut hickory, bitternut hickory, and silver maple (Carya laciniosa, C. cordiformis, and Acer saccharinum, respectively). Less common bird species tended to be more selective foragers than the more abundant bird species. The four most preferred trees were relatively uncommon where we sampled. Heavy-seeded hickories are slow to recolonize forests traditionally restored with common oak species (Quercus spp.). Therefore, restoring floristically diverse floodplain forests by planting preferred heavy-seeded and uncommon trees will enhance habitat quality for birds in these forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-470
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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