Burning for Birds! Prescribed burning for wildlife is one of the most inexpensive, effective and beneficial habitat management practice that you can utilize, and when used in the right circumstance and conditions it can really set the stage for an action packed turkey and upland game bird hunting season. Prior to European settlement, every spring and fall, wildfires would burn hot across the landscape of the continent. As a result, our native species have adapted to respond favorably when they experience fire. In some cases, only fire can scarify the seed of some species allowing them to grow.Turkeys, along with many other game species have evolved and adapted to recognize and hone in on areas that have recently seen fire. The reason for this is the habitat that is created once the site has been burned. During the spring months, turkeys and other upland game birds are keying in on very specific areas. These areas include bugging and brood rearing areas, nesting areas and of course strutting zones. Consequently, a well time prescribed burn in the right location can address every one of these needs, and can improve your habitat for game birds!While having native grasses on your property will certainly increase your habitat and wildlife use for a wide range of species, it is not specifically necessary. Conducting a prescribed burn for wildlife on your cool season grasses can also help you wrap your tag around the leg of a long beard this spring, or slap a pheasant or quail in your game vest. The first thing to consider when planning a prescribed burn for wildlife on your property is the location. Burn in areas that are already used by wildlife, but don’t burn massive chunks of land at a time. If you burn them out of house and home, where will they go? Use a grid system to burn pieces on rotational years. Also take into account potential blind or flush locations around the given “burn unit.”Turkeys and upland game birds are not fond of getting wet, and the morning dew on tall grasses can be a deterrent. Given the short height of the grasses in your burned area, it becomes a very attractive fly down or early morning feeding location. Once these areas begin to green up, turkeys and upland game birds will begin to utilize these areas almost immediately foraging on exposed seeds and the insects that will be in the lush sprouting grass.It is important ensure that you can safely and effectively carry out the prescribed burn for wildlife, regardless of the location. In other words, there may be cases where you cannot complete your burn in the most ideal location. If you find yourself in this situation, carry out your burn in an area that is easily manageable. It is amazing how turkeys and other upland game birds will seek these areas out.When it comes to completing a prescribed burn for wildlife, timing is always critical. In a typical situation, areas that have been burned will typically begin to green within one to two weeks after the fire. Completing prescribed burns for wildlife by early to mid-Mach, allowing for plenty of time for green up for spring turkey season; however weather can play a major role in completing a successful burn. Insuring proper humidity’s, ground fuel conditions and wind speeds will help ensure that you complete a successful prescribed burn for wildlife. In many cases, technical assistance and additional resources in carrying out a prescribed burn for wildlife can be provided by your state wildlife agency. Try adding a little fire to your bag of tricks this spring; we bet you will be glad you did!