We compared vegetative structure and bird communities among 4 successional states in central Oregon representing a continuum from 1) postburn grassland, 2) mountain big sagebrush–Idaho fescue (Artemisia tridentata–Festuca idahoensis) shrub–steppe, 3) sagebrush–steppe–juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), to 4) old-growth western juniper. Species richness, evenness, and diversity of bird communities were highest in old-growth and mid-successional juniper (22.9 species/transect and 23.6 species/transect, respectively) but lowest in the grasslands (17.6 species/transect). Bird species diversity was positively correlated with physiognomic cover diversity (r = 0.74, P = 0.001). Density of breeding birds was greatest in old-growth juniper (6.6 birds/ha) and lowest in postburn grasslands (3.6 birds/ha) but similar in shrub–steppe and sagebrush–steppe–juniper (6.0 birds/ha and 5.5 birds/ha, respectively). Old-growth juniper had the highest total densities of both tree and cavity nesters. Mountain chickadees (Parus gambeli), Cassin's finches (Carpodacus cassinii), chipping sparrows (Spizella passerina), brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides), dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), Empidonax flycatchers, ash-throated flycatchers (Myiarchus cinerascens), and northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) were more abundant in cover types dominated by junipers. Vesper sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus), western meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta), green-tailed towhees (Pipilo chlorurus), and horned larks (Eremophila alpestris) were associated with grassland communities. Brewer's sparrows (Spizella breweri), sage sparrows (Amphispiza belli), sage thrashers (Oreoscoptes montanus), and horned larks (Eremophila alpestris) were most abundant in sagebrush cover types. Management strategies should restore or maintain the desired proportions of the different successional states to maintain populations of grassland and sagebrush birds while providing habitat for tree and cavity nesting species.
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Vol. 71 • No. 4