Chapter of the Month: High Country Audubon- Important Bird Areas

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 High Country Audubon Society.

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.

Wilson Creek IBA

The Wilson Creek Important Bird Area covers 107,349 acres through Avery, Caldwell and Burke counties between Grandfather and Black Mountains. It contains a mix of mesophytic forests, xeric oak-pine forests and hemlock coves, as well as cliff faces and grasslands.

The Creek is home to many high priority species and migrating birds. Some of the more populous species include the Broad-winged Hawk, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Swainson’s Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager.

Invasive species are direct threats to this IBA, especially following a fire. Water pollution, as well as disturbance to species like the Peregrine Falcon have also negatively impacted the area. High Country Audubon has continued to conduct bird surveys and walks, and volunteers are working to remove invasive plants. The chapter’s conservation work in the area is promoting the health of local and migrating bird populations in the High Country.

Peregrine Falcon

Grandfather Mountain IBA

High Country Audubon has unofficially adopted Grandfather Mountain and conducts many bird programs there.

Possessing the highest peaks along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain has diverse habitats that range from cliff faces to a wide variety of forests.

With at least 118 breeding species, Grandfather Mountain has one of the greatest diversity of breeding sites in North Carolina. The IBA is especially important for species of conservation concern, such as the Northern Saw- whet Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Golden- crowned Kinglet, Yellow- bellied Sapsucker, Red- breasted Nuthatch and Brown Creeper. However, several threats to this vital bird habitat include air pollution and introduced pests.

Saw-whet Owl by Jesse Pope.

Audubon North Carolina oversees statewide conservation projects year-round. To donate to this and other efforts protecting birds, click here.

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