Our farm (south-central KS) has a huge shelter belt from the 1930s.

It is a half mile long and 100' wide in places. Most of the trees are starting to die of old age, crown shading, etc. I am planning to clear cut a few small slots in the least healthy parts and start some bur oak trees. (Turkeys love the horizontal branches for roosting.) I also wanted to start some swamp oaks in the low, wet spots of the farm.

Questions for the forum:

1.) I see acorns listed as part of the diet of pheasants, turkeys, and even quail. How the heck do pheasant and quail eat acorns - swallow them whole and wait a month or two for the shell to break down in their crop?

If the acorns would provide some food diversity to the birds, has anybody had success with a particular type of oak? For instance, one with smaller, or thinner shelled acorns? (Acorns from a bur oak are as big as a pheasants head.)

2.) I like the look of a few large trees in the corners of the fields. Would I be degrading my pheasant/quail habitat by intentionally creating "hawk perches" if I added a few trees outside of the shelter belt? I do have some plum thickets for escape cover. How far should tall trees be from your preferred pheasant/quail habitat?

3.) I am not an expert, but I tend to see raptors on "open" perches like the tops of telephone poles or in the large branches at the tops of dead trees. If I cut out the tall, dead snags, and replace with mast trees that won't be tall for 30-50 years, am I giving the upland birds a net benefit?

[I don't think raptors like the small twigs of new growth in a healthy tree. However, I have heard that raptor predation of upland birds is worst in the fall and winter. Therefore, even healthy trees might help the raptors (and harm the upland birds) after the leaves fall.]

Thanks for any assistance,