bettering our bird abode.

June 9, 2021

Last year, Natural Lands received $20,000 from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to study and improve habitat at Bear Creek Preserve for three species of birds that are in decline: Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, and Ruffed Grouse. The grant is part of the Cornell Lab’s Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative, which recognizes the importance of the role of land trusts in bird conservation through land preservation.

a small brown and white bird perched on a log

Wood Thrush
Photo by Bill Moses

Early successional and mixed-age forests are the ideal habitat for these species. To achieve this desired mix, several forestry projects are planned, including a prescribed burn, removal of a section of overstory trees to allow more sunlight to penetrate the woods, selective timber harvests, and group tree selection to create small openings in the forest.

A monitoring program utilizing eBird will track the success of the management actions by assessing bird diversity and monitoring for the presence and abundance of the target species. The project includes partnership with Audubon Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State University.

silviculture: the growing and cultivation of trees“It seems counter-intuitive to remove trees in order to improve forest habitat, but the goal is diversity of tree species and ages,” said Preserve Manager Josh Saltmer. “This grant will help us learn which silviculture methods lead to bird population increases at the preserve. We can then share that information with other land managers and conservation organizations.”

“Natural Lands constantly strives to care for our preserves in a way that best supports native vegetation and wildlife, particularly at-risk species,” added Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. “Thanks to the funding and support from the Cornell Lab, we hope to create a mosaic of mixed-aged forest at Bear Creek Preserve that better supports birds and other wildlife.”