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West Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas II Update

WV Breeding Bird Atlas II is showing changes in distributions of priority species; Richard Bailey, WVDNR.

The fourth field season of the six-year atlas project was successfully completed. Staff coordinated agency activities, volunteer efforts, and contracts and grants to assist the project while completing numerous days of fieldwork to gather atlas data for breeding confirmations and abundance counts. Major highlights for this project included:
  • Abundance point-count surveys completed on 108 priority blocks
  • 24,699 individual bird observations submitted in 2012, exceeding totals from the previous year by 64%
  • 170 species recorded statewide
  • 934 blocks received submissions
  • 101 participants in the atlas surveyed and submitted data
  • A State Wildlife Grant funded atlas effort in coalfield…
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Citizen Science Documents Potential Important Bird Area in Maryland Forests

Canada Warbler habitat in Savage River State Forest; photo by David Curson, Audubon.

Audubon Maryland-DC completed a 2-year “Bird Blitz” survey of Savage River State Forest and adjacent forestlands in Garrett County, Maryland, with the goal of documenting the site as a new Important Bird Area (IBA). Bird Blitz is a volunteer-based survey that targets at-risk species in order to identify new IBAs. During May and June 2011 and 2012, 14 volunteers along with Audubon staff completed 28 surveys covering 159 km of survey transects. Count totals included 120 wood thrush, 15 cerulean warblers, and 68 Canada warblers, indicating that Savage River will qualify as an IBA, with the nomination currently being compiled. This effort was supported by a State…
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Monitoring and Data Management Projects at Hampton Creek Cove

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) funded a Golden-winged Warbler (GWWA) monitoring project at Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area for a second consecutive year. Data were collected on the number of territorial males, hybrid, and blue-winged warbler interactions, nest productivity, site fidelity, and habitat use. A total of 18 territorial males (17 golden-wings and 1 blue-winged warbler) were monitored, in addition to one successful nesting female brewster’s warbler located at 3,640 feet. Warbler response to 2008-2010 habitat management activities was also assessed.

In addition, the TWRA supported a data management project which collated GWWA monitoring and habitat management data collected by several partners (TWRA, Southern…
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Partnering to Achieve Red Spruce and Spruce/ Northern Hardwood Restoration

Volunteer planting spruce saplings; photo by Cathy Johnson

Red spruce communities are considered one of the most endangered forest systems in the United States. Originally thought to cover approximately 500,000 acres in West Virginia, only about 10% of the state’s original red spruce and spruce-hardwood forests now remains. Most of the remaining high elevation spruce forest in the state is located on the Monongahela National Forest (MNF), where it currently supports many sensitive bird species, including the Northern Goshawk, Red Crossbill, Blackburnian Warbler, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and a variety of other species of concern.

To help conserve and restore these important habitats, MNF entered into…
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Working with Landowners to Provide Habitat for Grassland Birds in NY

Loggerhead Shrikes no longer breed in New York; photo by Jeff Nadler.

Through its Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has enrolled 526 acres of private lands within the AMJV region in 5-year contracts for grassland bird habitat management. An additional 433 acres are currently being enrolled. These lands are part of a statewide effort that will soon have enrolled well over 2,500 high-quality grassland acres in total.

Landowners enrolled in LIP agree to manage their lands according to a site management plan tailored to each property. Site management plans generally require removal of trees and woody vegetation and rotational mowing of…
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Restoring Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Nantahala National Forest; photo by USFS.

The National Forests in North Carolina are working with partners, organizations, and research scientists to identify and work toward restoration goals for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. As part of this effort, the Forest Supervisor created an ecological restoration steering team to further wildlife habitat restoration efforts. The group recently met and decided to “adopt” one of the Golden-winged Warbler focal areas in western North Carolina (as identified by the AMJV) that contains a high proportion of National Forest land. The group is receiving guidance from Golden-winged Warbler experts within the AMJV.

“We are quite excited…
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Habitat Enhancement Underway on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Prescribed fire on Brawley Mountain; photo by Bill Elliott.

The Blue Ridge Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is implementing a project to enhance habitat conditions for the Golden-winged Warbler. Only 12 breeding pairs currently call Georgia home, all in Chattahoochee National Forest’s Brawley Mountain area in Fannin County. The Golden-winged Warbler is a State Endangered species and a high-priority bird in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan and AMJV’s Implementation Plan.

The Brawley Mountain project involves the use of timber harvesting, prescribed burning, and selective herbicide application to create approximately 400 acres of open oak woodland conditions favored by this species in Georgia. The project will…
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Improving Land for Woodcock in Ohio and West Virginia

American Woodcock; photo by USFWS.

Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) created habitat for American Woodcock and other early successional habitat species on Ales Run, Broken Aro, and Ross Lake Wildlife Areas this past year. These areas, with a combined total of ~7,000 acres, are comprised mostly of mature forests of various types, but also contain a mixture of young forest, shrublands and open areas, and wetlands. Through the use of commercial logging companies, 216 acres of young forest were created in the 3 areas and established as habitat demonstration areas in cooperation with Wildlife Management Institute’s (WMI) Appalachian Mountains Woodcock Initiative (AMWI).


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Virginia Program Seeks to Conserve and Protect Important Bird Areas

Removing inavasive species like Autumn Olive is critical for providing the best habitat for wildlife; photo by USFWS.

Important Bird Areas, or IBAs, are sites that provide essential habitat for breeding, migrating, or wintering birds. Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are six IBAs contained within the AMJV: the Upper Blue Ridge Mountains, Allegheny Highlands, Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Mount Rogers/White Top, Powell and Stone Mountains, and Pine Mountain. Of these, the Allegheny Highlands IBA and Upper Blue Ridge Mountains IBA were identified as Globally Important by the National Audubon Society because they support significant populations of Cerulean Warbler (present in both) and Golden-winged Warbler (present in the Allegheny Highlands).

The Virginia IBA Program seeks…
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Habitat Management and Bird Monitoring at Mt. Zion/Piney Tract IBA

Audubon PA and the Seneca Rocks Audubon chapter purchased this sprayer for PA Game Commission to use for control of woody vegetation on SGL 330; photo by PA Game Commission

Over the last two years Audubon Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Game Commission, Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, Penn State University, and Clarion University have improved grassland habitat and monitored bird response at PA State Game Lands 330 (SGL 330) in Clarion County, Western PA. This site is well known for its grassland birds, especially Henslow’s Sparrows, having been reclaimed to grasslands after strip mined decades ago. As with many “legacy minelands” in the AMJV, habitat management targeting priority birds is needed to maintain or enhance grasslands, improve shrublands, or mitigate the soil compaction to encourage reforestation. On SGL 330, partners decided to…
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