Effects of fire and restoration on habitats and populations of western hummingbirds: A literature review

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To inform future restoration efforts, we reviewed the known effects of fire and habitat management and restoration on hummingbirds in four key habitat types in North America. We examined seven species that most commonly occur west of the Rocky Mountains: Rufous (Selasphorus rufus), Calliope (S. calliope), Broad-tailed (S. platycercus), Costa’s (Calypte costae), Black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri), Anna’s
(Calypte anna), and Allen’s (S. sasin). Our review found that most western hummingbird species respond positively to wild or prescribed fire in forested and chaparral habitats of the western United States, although some hummingbird occurrence declines following fire, possibly due to the loss of preferred nesting habitat in mature forests. Restoration practices that eradicate exotic plants, encourage the regeneration of native shrubs
and flowering plants (especially understory vegetation), and promote early and midsuccessional habitats connected with native stand trees will benefit hummingbirds by providing foraging habitat in migration and on breeding grounds. Restoration practices that encourage the regeneration of native shrubs, understory vegetation, and native epiphytes, while maintaining forest canopy, can also benefit hummingbirds. We also identify many critical
research questions and needs which, if addressed, would improve the quantification of pre- and postfire and habitat management impacts on hummingbirds, especially Allen’s and Rufous populations, which are experiencing steep population declines.

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