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 New Hope Audubon http://www.newhopeaudubon.org/ Read on to learn more about our chapter serving Chatham, Durham and Orange counties in the Piedmont.
New Hope Audubon Society IBAs
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. IBAs 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 non-profits, Audubon NC aims to activate a broad network of supporters to ensure that all IBAs are properly managed and conserved.
New Hope Audubon Society serves a sizeable portion of the Central North Carolina Piedmont. Within that region, New Hope Audubon sponsors two of its very own Important Bird Areas — Jordan Lake and the Eno River Bottomlands. The two IBAs provide essential protection for numerous, key resident and migratory bird species.
Jordan Lake IBA
Jordan Lake IBA encompasses bottomland hardwood forest, pine forest, deciduous forest, mixed forest and open water. The lake and surrounding forests support a great diversity of birds, but none is more prominent than the Bald Eagles. Up to four eagle nests have been documented in a single breeding season and as many as 71 eagles have been recorded on the lake. Additionally, Jordan Lake is one of only two nesting sites for Double-crested Cormorants known in North Carolina.
Attractive common nesters in our pine forests include Summer Tanagers, Pine Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches. In our hardwood forests, we often find Yellow-throated Warblers, American Redstarts, Wood Thrushes and Pileated Woodpeckers. While bird watching at nearby lakes, local bird watchers often see Wood Ducks, Great-blue Herons, Great Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants and Green Herons. In recent years, birders have noticed Anhingas and King Rails taking advantage of impoundments created by beavers in shallow parts of the Lake.
As a result of a partnership undertaken between New Hope Audubon, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Jordan Lake Wildlife Viewing Platform was constructed. The structure provides local birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts a front-row seat to nesting areas of Bald Eagles and Ospreys along the lakefront. The platform sits just off Martha’s Chapel Road in Chatham County, NC. This year, the group is also taking on several projects that aim to develop and improve hiking trails around the lake.
Eno River Bottomlands IBA
Spanning more than 12 thousand acres across Orange and Durham counties, the Eno River Bottomlands provides a diversity of habitats for a wide array of breeding songbirds. The Eno River is a popular getaway for locals and visitors alike who are interested in hiking, fishing and kayaking. Unfortunately, the area is susceptible to pollution and sedimentation, as a result of encroachment by humans, nearby development and the overall urbanization of the two counties. Luckily, because much of the IBA overlaps with the Eno River State Park, New Hope Audubon receives sizeable support in managing the land, and protecting resident species with assistance from the NC Division of State Parks, Eno River Association and the Triangle Land Conservancy.
The birds of Eno River offer a beautiful soundtrack for guests to enjoy. Red-tailed Hawk, Great Horned Owl and more than one-hundred types of songbirds harmonize their melodies in the mixed forests of the Bottomlands. Meanwhile, Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers thrive on 33 miles of swift riverfront. Other key species in this area include the American Black Duck, American Woodcock, Northern Bobwhite, Whip-poor-will and Acadian Flycatcher.
The protection afforded to the Bottomlands as an IBA will help prevent further fragmentation of the natural habitats along the river, which will help to maintain healthy population levels of each of these bird species.
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 for identifying sites essential to the health of North Carolina’s 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 of 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 in order to ensure the safety and survival of birds and wildlife. To donate to the IBA program and more efforts protecting birds across North Carolina, click here.