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Table 1 Predicted species-specific responses to fire by life history traits based on published literature and reviewed in Birds of the World (Billerman et al. 2020)

From: Short-term benefits of prescribed fire to bird communities of dry forests

Life history trait






Aerial insectivore

Prediction: positive

Prediction: moderate positive

Rationale: increased foraging opportunities due to reduction in forest canopy and increase in available nesting cavities

Rationale: decreases in canopy cover, which provides more space for foraging maneuvers

Species: ash-throated flycatcher, purple martin, tree swallow, violet-green swallow, mountain bluebird, white-throated swift, western flycatcher

Species: common nighthawk, Cassin’s kingbird, olive-sided flycatcher, western wood-pewee, Hammond’s flycatcher, gray flycatcher, dusky flycatcher, Townsend’s solitaire, Say’s phoebe

Bark insectivore

Prediction: strong positive

None in study

Rationale: increased availability of nest substrates (i.e., snags and dead portions of live trees) for all species and food (i.e., beetle larvae) for beetle foraging species

Species: hairy woodpecker, American three-toed woodpecker, black-backed woodpecker, downy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, red-breasted nuthatch, pygmy nuthatch, Pacific wren

Canopy foliage insectivore

Prediction: mixed

Prediction: negative

Rationale: increased nest availability with increases in dead portions of trees, but reductions in food resources of live foliage and bark

Rationale: reduced nesting and foraging substrate due to desiccation of foliage

Species: black-capped chickadee, mountain chickadee

Species: gray vireo, plumbeous vireo, Cassin’s vireo, warbling vireo, golden-crowned kinglet, ruby-crowned kinglet, olive warbler, Nashville warbler, yellow warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, Grace’s warbler, Townsend’s warbler, Virginia’s warbler, black-throated gray warbler, red-faced warbler, olive warbler, western tanager, bushtit

Shrub or ground insectivore

Prediction: positive

Prediction: mixed

Rationale: increased nest availability with increases in dead portions of trees, increased foraging substrate of open ground

Rationale: positive following regrowth of understory vegetation, which is stimulated by opening of the canopy, but negative for species reliant on ground litter

Species: rock wren, house wren, western bluebird

Species: American robin, Swainson’s thrush, orange-crowned warbler, MacGillivray’s warbler, Wilson’s warbler, vesper sparrow, Lincoln’s sparrow


Prediction: mixed

Prediction: neutral

Rationale: generalist foraging strategies for these species will result in minimal distributional changes, despite a potential increase in nesting habitat

Rationale: generalist foraging strategies for these species were expected to result in minimal changes

Species: Northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, red-naped sapsucker

Species: band-tailed pigeon, mourning dove, Hermit thrush, cedar waxwing, green-tailed towhee, spotted towhee, black-headed grosbeak, lazuli bunting, western meadowlark, Bullock’s oriole, Cassin’s finch, red crossbill, pine siskin, lesser goldfinch, song sparrow, brown-headed cowbird, chipping sparrow, Brewer’s sparrow, lark sparrow, dark-eyed junco, hepatic tanager