Chapter of the Month

Chapter of the Month: Highlands Plateau 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.

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.

The Highlands Plateau was one of the first IBAs designated in North Carolina. What makes this IBA especially unique is that the towns of Highlands and Cashiers are imbedded within the region supporting land birds in Western North Carolina.

The Greenway at Highlands has been recognized, designated a National Recreation Trail

by the Secretary of the Interior on May 3, 2010.

Habitats are particularly diverse including mixed and deciduous forest, coniferous forest, riparian and even mountain cliffs in the high elevation.

Canada Warbler by Steven Bullock.

The Highlands Plateau is a special IBA in that it attracts birds typical of northern forests, who when residing in the highlands are at the southern limit of their range. Regulars to the plateau include migratory land birds, and the region is one of our most important sites for Blackburnian Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Canada Warblers, Brown Creepers, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Black-throated Blue Warbler by Steven Bullock.

Rapid growth is encroaching on natural areas of the Plateau, creating a loss of habitat, fragmentation of forests and introduction of edge species in formerly interior forests. In addition to these, air pollution, golf course run-off and sedimentation of waterways are of concern as well.

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

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