Wildlife Habitat in Windbreaks (Supplement to Job Sheet 380)
USDA – NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE – NORTH CAROLINA
Photo courtesy of USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Photo courtesy of USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Loblolly pine, Longleaf pine, Eastern red cedar, and, to a lesser degree, evergreen shrubs such as
Wax myrtle traditionally have been used to create windbreaks in North Carolina. This
vegetation will provide wind protection, but with additional plant selections and management
techniques, their wildlife habitat value can be improved. Windbreaks can be developed to create
valuable cover and food resources for wildlife that inhabit brushy habitats, such as bobwhite
quail, bluebirds, Coopers hawk, and a variety of songbirds. Windbreaks that connect fragmented
woodlots may be travelways for forest dwelling wildlife. This job sheet will help you design a
functional windbreak that provides optimum wildlife habitat.
The importance of properly managed windbreaks to wildlife include:
♦ Increasing the availability of wildlife foods such as seeds, berries, and prey – both within the
windbreak and adjacent cropland.
♦ Providing links between forests and field interiors, expanding the amount of useable wildlife
♦ Plants that retain their fruit late in the winter provide high energy foods are available to
wildlife during cold weather.
♦ For wildlife habitat purposes, plant a mixture of trees and shrubs that provide fruit at
different times of the year. The following table indicates when seeds and fruit of some
windbreak plants are available for wildlife.
♦ While shrubs traditionally have been planted on the outside (windward edge) of windbreaks,
for wildlife habitat purposes it is also desirable to plant shrubs among the trees. This design
provides a greater diversity of habitats within the windbreak.
♦ As with all types of wildlife corridors, greater widths are more benefi