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Vol. 3 | No. 2 | April 2010   

 

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May Management  Recommendations
 
Fire Ecology

  • Continue to conduct prescribed burns as needed.
  • Burning during the growing season promotes native seed production.
  • Choose appropriate conditions and extinguish by sunset to keep smoke off of major roads.

Forestry

  • Conduct longleaf cone crop and flower counts.
  • Where adequate longleaf cone crops are available begin conducting burns to capture seed fall that will occur later in the year.  Some regrowth of understory vegetation will lower seed predation.
  • Continue timber stand improvement thinning, hardwood removal and other cultural treatments in forest stands.
  • Conduct timber harvests in suitable areas. Avoid harvesting timber in active Red-cockaded woodpecker nesting areas
  • Retain a few large upland hardwoods in the uplands (5-10 square feet basal area) for Sherman’s fox squirrel.

Game Bird

  • Complete burning of native ground cover areas where quail management is the focus.
  • In areas with few fields on old field land conduct some burns to provide late season brood habitat or to achieve hardwood re-sprout control.
  • Finish post-burn mowing and chopping by 1 June, mowing in areas needing hardwood re-sprout control.
  • Supplemental Feed at 2 bu/ac/yr.
  • Nest predator management if needed, especially important if avian predation has been higher than normal.
  • Complete timbering and clean-up activities on quail management areas.

Land Management

  • After May 15, begin treating cogongrass infestations as weather permits.
  • Begin planting summer food such as corn, peas and grain sorghum.
  • Apply lime according to soil test results.
  • Begin early herbicide applications.
  • Begin to mow roads.
  • Check water control structures and dikes on managed wetland areas for needed maintenance.
  • Plant dove fields.
  • Plant duck ponds.
  • Plant Chufa fields.

Vertebrate Ecology

  • The Red-cockaded Woodpecker nesting season gets underway in late April in the Red Hills region.  Clear fuels away from cavity trees that have heavy sap build-up before you burn.  Clearing fuels helps to minimize damage to the tree and the nesting site.
  • Installing inserts into pine trees provides valuable nesting habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
  • Sherman’s fox squirrels can be seen digging in the dirt this time of year sniffing around for subterranean fungi (truffles).  The tasty morsels keep squirrels going, but the process also helps the forest by dispersing nitrogen-fixing bacteria over large areas.  Home range estimates for fox squirrels range from 10 to 40 acres, so these squirrels can distribute the fungus over very large areas.
  • Monitor gopher tortoise burrows in burned areas.
  • Monitor bluebird boxes.
  • Monitor wood duck boxes.

June Management Recommendations

Fire Ecology

  • Continue to conduct prescribed burns as needed.
  • Burning during this month appears to be an effective means of reducing vigor of re-sprouting woody stems on sites with native ground cover, less so on old-field lands.
  • Own your smoke! Be aware that smoke can settle in drainages and mix with early morning or evening fog to form a dense “fog” that creates traffic safety issues.
  • Conduct post-burn evaluations to determine success of woody control

Forestry

  • Finish timber harvests and clean up operations by mid to end of June.
  • Avoid having heavy equipment in the woods when soils are wet.
  • Where adequate longleaf cone crops are present continue conducting burns to capture seed fall that will occur later in the year.  Some regrowth of understory vegetation will lower seed predation by providing some cover for seed.

Game Bird

  • Continue to supplemental feed at 1 to 2 bu/ac/yr.  Adjust as necessary given weather conditions. 
  • Nest predator management if needed.
  • Begin to mow roads as needed.
  • Begin herbicide applications for bicolor and bahia grass control.

Land Management

  • Continue treating cogongrass infestations as weather permits.
  • Disk strips to encourage the production of Florida pussley, a highly preferred deer forage.
  • Get soil tests for fall food plots at least once every two years.
  • Continue planting summer food plots.
  • Apply lime according to soil test results.
  • In most parts of Florida, June is usually the last month to plant aeschynomene (joint vetch), to achieve adequate reseeding in November.

Vertebrate Ecology

  • Leaving dead trees or snags provides valuable habitat for cavity nesters.
  • One of the loudest songsters in our Pinewoods this time of year is the elusive Bachman’s Sparrow. This endemic sparrow is abundant on sites burned within the past 12 months, but its numbers can be almost halved on sites coming into a 2-year rough. Bachman’s Sparrow is often thought to have one of the prettiest songs of any songbird, and to hear an example, simply follow this link:  http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/ornithology/sounds.htm
  • Lots of fledgling birds wandering the woods. Many use small brushy thickets, so hold off on mowing until late August if possible. Also a good time to keep cats in doors.
  • Gopher tortoise nesting reaches a peak in early June. Watch for females laying eggs and consider nest protection and predator-proof fencing.
  • Female free-tailed bats give birth to a single pup from May to June.
  • Pine snakes lay 5–12 large eggs in a burrow during June or July. The young hatch a couple of months later and start to look for mice and other rodents. Tall Timbers research suggests pine snakes are closely associated with longleaf pine/wiregrass sites.

July Management Recommendations

Fire Ecology

  • Focus prescribed burning efforts on sites with native ground cover.  Old field vegetation does not burn well unless the fuel composition is greater than 25% grass cover.
  • Conduct post-burn evaluations to determine success of woody control.

Forestry

  • Conduct survival checks on planted pines.
  • Avoid thinning and logging operations during wet weather.

Game Bird

  • Supplemental feed at 1 bu/ac/yr. 
  • Nest predator management if needed.
  • Mow roads.

Land Management

  • Plant chufas.
  • Plant millet for dove food plots.
  • Planting by mid-month is usually considered the best time to have most types of millet ready just before the October first phase of dove season in Florida.
  • Continue planting other summer food plots.
  • Begin deer track counts and deer spotlight surveys.
  • Deer are in velvet.
  • Scrub morning glory and butterfly weed bloom.

Vertebrate Ecology

  • It’s hot, but the early phase of shorebird migration occurs later this month with early records for Spotted Sandpipers.
  • Fledgling red-cockaded woodpeckers start looking for roost cavities to use at night beginning in late July. Good time to manage flying squirrels and other interlopers that might use cavities.
  • Early flowering of some fall flowers commences in late July and will start to attract native butterflies.
  • Fox squirrels initiate a full tail molt during July-August
  • Second fox squirrel litters can be initiated in July and August. Older females in good physical condition usually produce litters of 2-5 young twice each year when food supplies are good.
  • Eastern diamondbacks give live birth to 10-14 young between July and October, but females may not breed every year.
The mission of Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy is to foster exemplary land stewardship through research, conservation and education.