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New Off-Road Bird Survey Reveals Importance of Kittatinny Ridge

View from Pulpit Rock along the Kittatinny Ridge; photo by Brian Byrnes.

A survey study conducted in the Kittatinny Ridge Important Bird Area reveals that off-road point counts allow for much higher detection of forest interior songbirds, including many priority birds, in extensive forest systems. Findings demonstrate the efficacy of trail-based point counts in larger scale forests in the AMJV, where many forests are likely under-surveyed and under-appreciated for their importance to high priority species.

The Kittatinny Ridge is a largely forested ridge that extends for 185 miles through southeastern Pennsylvania, extending from the Delaware Gap to the Mason-Dixon Line. It is one of the primary hawk migration routes…
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Boreal Mountain Forest Bird Project Guide Protections for Rare Species

Boreal conifer forests are important for Blackpoll Warblers which are state endangered in Pennsylvania; photo by W.H. Majoros.

For several years, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has investigated the boreal mountain forest birds of the state.  Information gathered from such studies is informing management on state game lands and state forests. Furthermore, guidance documents for environmental review were finalized in 2013 for both Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Blackpoll Warbler, both state endangered species.  These documents will guide protections and management of locations that support these and other rare species that occupy this unique habitat.

Boreal conifer forests, mountain habitat islands that can be small and isolated, support breeding populations of several rare species including Northern Waterthrush, Canada…
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Surveys Result in Completion of Fifth Season of WV Breeding Bird Atlas

Juvenile Loggerhead Shrike observed in West Virginia; photo by Rich Bailey.

During the fifth field season of the six-year Atlas Project, 86 WV Division of Natural Resources staff and atlas volunteers logged 3,525 field hours and submitted nearly 15,000 observations of 165 species statewide to the Atlas data portal.  Abundance sampling took place on 170 quads statewide.

WVDNR staff also located and monitored seven breeding pairs of rare Loggerhead Shrikes in Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Monroe counties.  Staff initiated partnerships with local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices to contact and work with landowners on access and habitat management.  Partnerships with nearby states are helping initiate a trapping/banding program and…
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Golden-winged Warbler Monitoring Project Continues at Hampton Creek Cove

A male Golden-winged Warbler banded at Hampton Creek Cove; photo by Nora Schubert.

A Golden-winged Warbler monitoring project, funded by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, has documented population and breeding activities of this priority bird species at Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area (HCCSNA) for three consecutive years.  The major goals of this project are to record arrival phenology, breeding site fidelity, and number and spatial arrangement of all Golden-winged Warbler territories through color banding and territory mapping. Monitoring is also detailing nest success, vegetation characteristics of nest sites and territories, level of genetic introgression between Golden-winged Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler and hybrids, and evaluating the avian community associated with Warblers at this…
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Pennsylvania Golden-winged Warbler Monitoring Informs Management

Scrub oak barrens were one of the habitats found to be used by Golden-winged Warblers during surveys by PA Game Commission staff; photo by Doug Gross.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s (PGC) Wildlife Diversity section comprehensive monitoring program is informing the agency and its partners not only of Golden-winged Warbler population status but also potential for implementing best management practices.  PGC has been coordinating the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology (CLO) Golden-winged Warbler monitoring for several years and integrating standard surveys such as Breeding Bird Surveys, Breeding Bird Atlas, CLO Golden-winged Warbler Conservation Initiative Monitoring (CIM), and selective searches in appropriate locations.  The team of field observers conducting monitoring activities includes both agency staff and volunteers.

Over the last three years, searches that follow-up on …
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Audubon North Carolina Achievements for Bird Conservation

Audubon NC’s Private Lands Biologist Aimee Tomcho; photo by Curtis Smalling.

Enrolling Landowners and Acres in Working Lands for Wildlife
Working with Natural Resources Conservation Service through a Conservation Partners grant, Audubon is working with 105 private landowners to increase enrollment of acres that can enhance habitat for Golden-winged Warblers for the Working Lands for Wildlife program. Site visits are underway with these landowners and staff is helping write management recommendations and conducting property evaluations to expedite entry into the program.

Earlier in the year, we began identifying landowners who might be eligible to enroll in the program.  For the initial sign up in late winter and…
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Evaluating GWWA Use of Breeding Habitat in Southern and Central Appalachian

Field technicians in North Carolina that collected data for the regional CEAP project; photo by Curtis Smalling.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Research Institute (IUP-RI) and its partners successfully completed the second year of monitoring Golden-winged Warbler demographics across sites in the Southern and Central Appalachian states. Researchers from IUP-RI, West Virginia University, University of Tennessee, Appalachian State University, and North Carolina Audubon are monitoring and evaluating Golden-winged Warbler response to habitat management implemented using the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Working Lands For Wildlife (WLFW): Golden-winged Warbler Habitat Initiative.

To date, monitoring took place at 68 sites across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  Researchers examined territory density, nest success, and habitat selected by…
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Burning for Biodiversity in the Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network

Virginia USFWS staff starting a controlled burn at Mare Run; photo by Chuck Almarez.

Efforts by partners within the Central Appalachians Fire Learning Network (FLN) are restoring the historic role of fire to oak- and pine-dominated ecosystems throughout the region. Activities are benefiting a diversity of avian species dependent on forest structural and compositional heterogeneity.  In the Allegheny and Potomac Highlands of Virginia and West Virginia, FLN partners completed burns on over 13,700 acres of federal, state and private lands.  Partners, including The Nature Conservancy (TNC), USDA Forest Service, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VA DCR), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VA DGIF), Pennsylvania Game Commission, and others, also treated 832…
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Successful Implementation of GWWA Habitat on Public and Private Lands

Emily Bellush, private lands GWWA –WLFW coordinator in PA, meeting with an interested landowner; photo by Judy Bellush.

The Pennsylvania Golden-winged Warbler Habitat Initiative continued its exciting and productive efforts to create quality young forest habitat for breeding Golden-winged Warblers and associated wildlife throughout Pennsylvania.  It was going to be tough to top our successes in 2012, a year in which we surpassed our annual breeding habitat goals for Pennsylvania by preparing or implementing greater than 15,000 acres of Golden-winged Warbler habitat across public and private lands. Nonetheless, we committed to continued success by expanding landowner outreach efforts and building upon the many valuable lessons learned in previous years.

Collectively, our partnership reached out to…
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SAHC Protects and Improves 1,000 Acres in the Highlands of Roan

Male Golden-winged Warbler detected in habitat improvement areas on Little Hump Mountain; photo by Chris Coxen.

Last winter, SAHC protected the 600-acre Grassy Ridge tract within the Highlands of Roan, providing critical connectivity between U.S. Forest Service land and North Carolina Yellow Mountain State Natural Area lands. The new acquisition permanently protects several important habitat types. The site features high elevation heath and grassy balds, northern hardwood and high elevation red oak forests, and substantial old-field successional habitat that currently supports breeding Golden-winged Warblers and American Woodcocks. The 357-acre Yellow Mountain Gateway tract, featuring rich cove, high elevation red oak, northern hardwood forests and riparian habitat along its streams, was also protected on the Roan. A…
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