Two Plummer’s Hollow breeding birds included in Watchlist 2007
Watchlist 2007, a listing of U.S. bird species considered at greatest need of immediate conservation attention, “builds on the species assessments conducted for many years by Partners in Flight (PIF) on landbirds, using those same PIF standards, but expanded to cover species of all taxa. The list is based on the latest available research and assessments from the bird conservation community, along with data from the Christmas Bird Count and Breeding Bird Survey.” The list contains 217 species in all, and is divided into “red” and “yellow” — kind of like a two-tiered version of the Department of Homeland Security’s terrorism alert levels. Two species in the less severely threatened “yellow” category regularly breed in Plummer’s Hollow in sizable numbers, according to data we have gathered for the Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas and in annual point counts for the Bald Eagle Ridge Important Bird Area, which includes this property: the cerulean warbler and the wood thrush. These are two of six Watchlist species found in Pennsylvania, according to an article in the PA Environment Digest.
Wood Thrush: Wood thrushes rely on large interior forests and are threatened by habitat fragmentation, deforestation, and nest parasitism. Each year wood thrushes, down 62 percent in Pennsylvania over the past 40 years, migrate from Central America to the U.S., where Pennsylvania houses 8.5 percent of the world’s breeding population. Audubon Pennsylvania is actively engaging landowners and helping them improve their deer management practices as well as advocating statewide improvement to deer management. A deer herd out of balance with Penn’s Woods hinders healthy forest regeneration and serves as a contributing factor to habitat loss for forest-dwelling species, like the wood thrush, and other wildlife.
Cerulean Warbler: The cerulean warbler is found in the forests of riparian valleys and ridge top habitats in the eastern United States. Over the past half century it has steadily declined in numbers primarily due habitat loss directly associated with numerous types of human activities on both breeding and wintering grounds. In more recent years large areas of both types of breeding habitat have been destroyed through a practice of coal extraction known as mountaintop removal mining. Audubon Pennsylvania supports alternate placement of wind power turbines, many of which are currently sited along ridge tops. Such placement further promotes fragmentation of ridge top habitats utilized by cerulean warblers.
The presence of such interior-forest species, as well as the ridge’s importance as a migratory corridor for raptors (especially golden eagles), were the main reasons for its designation as an Important Bird Area by the Ornithological Technical Committee of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey. Wind turbine installations proposed for Bald Eagle Ridge and many other forested ridges in central and western Pennsylvania would further endanger these already declining species. We have of course refused offers from wind companies to build on our own portion of the ridge, but are just paranoid enough to fear that someday we might face the imposition of eminent domain.