Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Sweetbay vegetation and habitats are used by a variety of wildlife species. Squirrels, other small mammals, song birds, wild turkeys, and bobwhite quail feed on sweetbay seeds [47,76]. Deer and cattle browse sweetbay leaves and twigs throughout the year. Winter cattle diets may be up to 25% sweetbay . Sweetbay leaves are also used in nest construction by several bird species . In North Carolina, mammals often utilize pocosin and bay forest habitats .
American black bears: In the Southeast, American black bears feed on sweetbay and utilize sweetbay habitats. In coastal Virginia and North Carolina, pocosins provide important refuge for American black bears . In the Great Dismal Swamp, new sweetbay leaves and stems had a frequency of 43% in the spring diets of American black bears. Scat analyses indicated that use of sweet bay was much lower in other seasons . On Florida's Eglin Air Force Base, riparian habitats made up just 5% of the available area but were the habitats used most frequently by American black bears. Sweetbay was a primary species in riparian habitats that were utilized by bears year round .
White-tailed deer, cattle: Sweetbay is likely browsed by deer throughout its range. In New Jersey's Lebanon State Forest, white-tailed deer browse new sweetbay sprouts, particularly in the first growing season. White-tailed deer may clip stems to 1 to 2 feet (0.3-0.6 m) tall . The degree of white-tailed deer browsing on sweetbay in longleaf pine communities in National Forests of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana led researchers to classify sweetbay as an intermediate browse choice . In longleaf pine-slash pine stands in southeastern Mississippi, sweetbay made up a high of 8.3% of the total diet composition in March. Cattle diets contained much less sweetbay, and March diets were only 0.16% sweetbay .
Other mammals: Beavers fed extensively on sweetbay in the St Tammany Parish of southeastern Louisiana. Although sweetbay made up just 2.2% of the available woody plants, it was utilized at 79.3%. Bark removal was much more common than felling and/or girdling, and tree mortality was rare . In southern Mississippi, cotton mice were captured most often from bayhead vegetation, suggesting this habitat is important .
Birds: Eastern kingbirds, mockingbirds, robins, wood thrushes, and red-eyed vireos feed on sweet bay seeds and often use sweetbay leaves as nest material . Swainson's warblers also use sweetbay leaves in nest construction .
Palatability/nutritional value: Several references report the palatability and/or nutritional content of sweetbay. For information from wetlands of the New Jersey pine barrens, see ; from pine forests of the Siecke State Forest in Texas, see ; and from longleaf pine-slash pine stands in southeastern Mississippi, see .
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