Restoring Native Birds to Missouri: Thomas Bonnot

MU School of Natural Resources assistant professor Thomas Bonnot explains how researchers are reintroducing brown-headed nuthatch birds to Missouri.

September 11, 2020


Pate McCuien: "Brown-headed nuthatch birds once lived in Missouri’s Ozarks on millions of acres of pine and oak woodlands. However, due to widespread logging and fire suppression, most of this ecosystem was removed by the early 1900's, which forced the nuthatch out of the state.

For the past few decades, a partnership among the university of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Mark Twain National Forest has helped restore the birds’ habitat through harvesting timber and prescribed fires. Now, MU professor Thomas Bonnot says that with the habitat restored, researchers collected some brown-headed nuthatches in nearby Arkansas and have started reintroducing the birds to Missouri in the Mark Twain National Forest."

Bonnot: “These birds are moving around the habitat; they are checking out trees and cavities and socializing amongst each other. So, these are all the things that we would expect them to do. And really all signs show that the population right now is doing great.”

McCuien: In addition to the importance of restoring species that are native to Missouri, Bonnot adds that the birds play a key role in the pine woodland ecosystem by excavating holes in trees and increasing the biodiversity of the habitat.

Bonnot: “This species actually provides homes and cavities for other species in this ecosystem and so they fill a role in that sense, but it is also mainly just about restoring the ecosystem as a whole.”

McCuien: "I’m Pate McCuien, with a Spotlight on Mizzou."

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