Audubon North Carolina has 10 amazing chapters across the state who help put a local focus on bird preservation and conservation issues. In this special blog series, we’ll focus on a chapter each month to learn more about their history, what they are working on, and to increase the statewide understanding of special ecosystems and habitats. Each month will include a series of posts about each chapter including a post from our biologists that will share a unique research project that is happening in the chapter’s geographic footprint.
This month, we get to know the Audubon Society of Forsyth County http://www.forsythaudubon.org/. Read on to learn more about our chapter serving Winston-Salem.
Audubon North Carolina’s Important Bird Area (IBA) Program is a global effort to identify and conserve areas that are vital to bird populations and to biodiversity. IBA’s can be classified as sites for breeding, wintering grounds, or stopovers for migrating birds. By working with local chapters, landowners, public agencies, community groups and other nonprofits, Audubon NC aims to activate a broad network of supporters to ensure that all IBA’s are properly managed and conserved.
Forsyth Audubon was the first chapter in the state to participate in Audubon’s IBA program, adopting Hanging Rock State Park and New River Corridor, located in Ashe County. The Winston-Salem Chapter supports its IBAs by organizing regular citizen-science bird counts to contribute to ongoing research of birds in the areas, and donates supplies including signage to tout the conservation status of the park and corridor.
Hanging Rock State Park
Not far from the cities of the Triad area, sheer cliffs and peaks of bare rock, quiet forests and cascading waterfalls are home to a wealth of North Carolina’s priority birds.
Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina’s 2012 Park of the Year is included in Forsyth Audubon’s adoption program, even though IBA status remains pending. The park is a key area for nesting and breeding for species including Common Ravens, passerines such as Worm-eating and Black-throated Green Warbler, and Peregrine Falcons nesting in the park in recent years has made Hanging Rock an area of interest.
Forsyth Audubon conducts Christmas and Spring Bird Counts for the area in and around the park. It also conducts campfire programs and bird-walks for park visitors, and has supported the park with purchases of binoculars and field guides for children, reference materials relating to the falcons, museum display items and signage promoting the park as a stop on the North Carolina Birding Trail.
New River Corridor
The New River Corridor Important Bird Area, spanning both Ashe and Alleghany counties, near the Virginia border in northwestern North Carolina, includes a relatively narrow floodplain and adjacent slopes along the lower portions of the South Fork and North Fork of the New River.
The 31,643-acre site is one of the best areas in North Carolina for breeding Warbling Vireos and Baltimore Orioles, and supports a significant number of Willow Flycatchers and Least Flycatchers as well. The state's first breeding record for Tree Swallow was found along the river. Orchard Oriole and Yellow-throated Vireo are found on the site as well as Golden-winged Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers and Yellow Warblers.
Residential and commercial development on and in close proximity to the stream bank threaten much-needed bird habitat. Agriculture and conversion are some of the major conservation threats to the area, but recreational development, residential and commercial development due to clearing of vegetation for pasture, Christmas tree plantations and croplands are also of concern.
For several spring seasons, Forsyth Audubon volunteers have worked with NC Audubon's Director of Land Bird Conservation Curtis Smalling to conduct point count surveys along the New River at the state park's river-only Allegheny Access campground and elsewhere. With collaborative funds, the Chapter has purchased signage that promotes the IBA and Birding Trail status of the park.
Become an IBA VIP
Do you know of an area in North Carolina that deserves “Important Bird Area” status? Let us know! The IBA Program is always open to tips on identifying sites essential to the health of NC bird communities. Once identified, we would also love your support in monitoring bird counts within IBAs. Bird watchers of ALL levels are encouraged to participate. For more information on how you can help safeguard North Carolina bird populations for generations to come, please visit: http://nc.audubon.org/adopt-important-bird-area
Audubon North Carolina oversees statewide conservation projects year-round. To donate to this and other efforts protecting birds, click here.