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Woodland management for birds: Priority species

  • Climate change causing decline in large flying insects (Langston et al. in press).

  • Increased disturbance, especially unleashed dogs, possibly causing a decrease in nesting success.

  • A reduction in extensive open areas within forestry reducing their suitability as nesting and foraging areas could be impacting on nightjars, but this is yet to be fully evaluated.

Management advice


  • Target management into key areas.

  • Create and/or maintain a continuity of open ground of at least 2 ha (preferably >10 ha) within woodland by retaining open ground. Ensure any clear-felling programme provides for this in Forest Design Plans with nightjars or in nightjar key areas.

Increase the extent or improve the quality of nest sites

  • Minimise disturbance by keeping dogs under close control, limiting access to nesting areas, eg by leaving brash rows or creating alternative footpath routes


and avoiding woodland management operations in the breeding season to improve nesting success.

  • Maintain suitable nesting habitat, ie bare ground in open areas of conifer plantations, eg by herbicide spraying or inter-row ploughing to maintain availability of nest sites as ground vegetation develops.

  • Improve nest sites by leaving uncompacted lop and top in situ to provide protection and shelter.

Increase the extent or improve the quality of foraging habitat

  • Increase the length of the forest edge by creating an irregular margin by selective felling or planting.

  • Enhance wet areas within and adjacent to the woodland by pond creation, ditch and grip blocking and not improving drainage, to increase invertebrate abundance.

  • Encourage the development of, or create, a dense edge to open habitats to improve foraging opportunities by reducing the impact of cold winds on invertebrate activity.

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