Understanding nesting seasons of protected bird species is part of good forest management

Wildlife biologist in pink vest and hard hat looking up into the trees with binoculars.

I love being in the woods. I don’t care if it’s just for a moment, or weeks at a time. As soon as my boots hit the dirt, I feel a sense of connection I don’t feel anywhere else. I imagine many of us who work in the woods feel this way – even if we don’t get out there as much as we would like. 

As a wildlife biologist, when I’m among the trees I particularly tune in to the birds you can find in the forest. I like hearing them, seeing them and observing their behavior. In my job I spend quite a bit of time with foresters, loggers and others who work in the woods, helping them understand which kinds of birds have special protections under state and federal law – things they must consider when planning a timber harvest or other forest operation. 

There are several species of birds called out in the Oregon Forest Practices Act, which regulates forest management practices on state and private forestland. These species require protections when forest operations could conflict with nesting. Each species has a different biology, and therefore different protections based on how and when they nest and the needs of their young.  

Bald eagle perched in a tree.

I recently helped the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s Wildlife in Managed Forests program develop a new publication for forest landowners, managers and operators to help them understand the varied protections for bird species required by the Oregon Forest Practices Act. The Wildlife in Managed Forests: Forest Practices Act Reference Series outlines these protections for a variety of bird species. It describes specific protection requirements for each of the nine bird species featured in the pamphlet, including a chart showing the critical nesting times when special protections are required for the species. 

One way the chart can be used by operators and forest managers is to review it prior to planning timber harvests, to understand when birds aren’t nesting. That’s because if your logging operation is near a known active nest, it’s best to plan harvests outside that bird species’ nesting season. 

Understanding the Forest Practices Act protections for certain forest-reliant bird species is sometimes confusing, because the law requires very specific protection measures for species such as the northern spotted owl and osprey – while not for other species such as the golden eagle and marbled murrelet. This has a lot to do with whether the bird species is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, and whether specific forest practice rules have been established for a species. OFRI’s new reference series that outlines these differences clearly will be incredibly helpful for anyone owning or managing an Oregon forest where these species can be found. 

Northern spotted owl perched in a tree.

You can download the Wildlife in Managed Forests: Forest Practices Act Reference Series from the publications page on OFRI’s website, and hard copies can be ordered as well – for free! 

I encourage anyone who works in the woods to review and keep this publication handy. I use this information all the time. 

Fran Cafferata 
Certified Wildlife Biologist®
Cafferata Consulting

Photo credits:

Header photo: Sara Duncan

Northern spotted owl photo: Eliana Pool  


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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