Northwoods young forests provide habitat for songbirds facing population challengesSubmitted: 06/18/2015
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Northwoods young forests provide habitat for songbirds facing population challenges
LAKE TOMAHAWK - Amber Roth stands in an opening of a young forest plot in the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest near Lake Tomahawk.

"I'm hoping you're hearing all of the different birds around us," she says to the field trip participants around her as birds chirp and sing. "This is fabulous nest cover for birds."

Roth is a research assistant professor at Michigan Tech University. In this young forest, Roth and her team don't see a wasteland, but a valuable habitat for some bird species.

The young forest around her is a recent cutover, with aspen and shrubs growing back. The plants are a few years old.

"This is what (the birds) need for nesting cover," she says.

It's especially good for the golden-winged warbler, a songbird facing declining population. The species is under consideration for threatened or endangered status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Amber's team is trying to find them in a young forest plot near Lake Tomahawk. She uses artificial bird songs and nets to catch them.

To help track the warblers, which migrate to the tropics, Amber puts small bands on their legs. In Wisconsin, she looks to help maintain young forest habitats for the songbirds.

"We're very critical to the future of this species, so management is really important," she says.

The field trip visited the young forest plot as part of a tour exploring forest management types, organized by Science on Tap in Minocqua.

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