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WILDLIFE SPECIES: Sialia sialis | Eastern Bluebird
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : It is very probable that few eastern bluebirds die in fires [36]. Adults easily escape fire, and nests and nestlings are only vulnerable to severe fire that destroys nest sites. In Minnesota prescribed fire conducted during the breeding season was evaluated for direct effects on eastern bluebird nesting activity. Nest boxes 4 and 4.6 feet (1.2 and 1.4 m) above ground were monitored on the day of the fire. Flame lengths were 3.3 feet (1 m) or less. Adult eastern bluebirds left the nest boxes as the fire front approached; one pair was observed hovering over the nest as the fire passed underneath the box. The adults returned to the nest boxes when the fire had passed. No eggs were harmed by this fire and there was 100 percent nest success (all eggs produced fledglings) for both boxes. In the area the success rate for 23 nests was 93 percent [10]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : The eastern bluebird is known as a fire-follower [1,16,35,62]; the low sparse vegetation on fresh burns and plentiful natural cavities caused by decay in fire injured or killed trees are important for eastern bluebird habitat [36,41]. In southern pine forests, fire retards succession, reduces midstory hardwoods and shrubs, and favors herbaceous vegetation; all of these effects enhance eastern bluebird habitat [16]. An important consideration is the effect of fire on food sources. Fire often reduces understory fruit production [33]. There are conflicting reports on the effect of fire on arthropod populations [16]. The effects of fire on invertebrate populations may be transitory or long lasting. There is usually an immediate decrease in invertebrates due to direct mortality and indirectly due to loss of food supplies and shelter. In some instances flying insects are attracted by heat, smoke, or killed or damaged trees, and therefore populations of some species may increase during and after a fire. Fires reduce the populations of most soil fauna (animals that spend most of their time on the forest floor or mineral soils). The length of time of this effect varies with fire severity and postfire vegetation [36]. FIRE USE : Savannas and open stands are natural bluebird habitat that usually require recurrent fire for maintenance. Prescribed fire is usually beneficial to eastern bluebirds, especially if it controls shrubs and understory hardwoods [46]. REFERENCES : NO-ENTRY

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Information Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Fire Effects Information System

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