Managing Oaks for Acorn Production to Benefit Wildlife in Missouri
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Oaks are one of the most important and abundant hardwood trees found in Missouri's forests. Besides producing high-quality wood products, oaks also provide important sources of food and cover for wildlife. Older, mature stands of oaks provide den sites and cavities that are used by many species. The fruits of oak (acorns), hickory and walnut trees (nuts) are commonly referred to as hard mast. Hard mast, and acorns in particular are used by many species of birds and mammals, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, squirrels and wood ducks. The importance of acorns as a food source for wildlife is primarily related to their widespread occurrence, palatability, nutritional value, and availability during the fall and winter, when they provide an excellent source of needed energy.