Breeding bird communities of the Parker Tract hardwood forest swamps: Year 2000 report
The natural forest areas of Weyerhaeuser Company’s Parker Tract represent the last remnants of the East Dismal Swamp and are recognized as some of the most biologically diverse lands within the South Atlantic Coastal Plain. In recognition of this increasingly rare ecosystem, the Weyerhaeuser Company and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) formed a conservation partnership that included, among several natural resource initiatives, to maintain mature swamp forest capable of sustaining certain neotropical migratory songbirds that are of high conservation priority in the South Atlantic Coastal Plain. This project was initiated to monitor bird populations in natural swamp forest areas of the Parker tract to better understand their response to management practices. Breeding bird communities were sampled within a network of 138 survey points distributed in ten hardwood management stands in 1999 and 2000. A total of 10,140 detections of 58 bird species were made during surveys, including 34 species of neotropical migrants. Survey results were similar between years. A number of species detected are of special interest because they are restricted to swamp habitats, such as the Parker tract, and/or are of high conservation priority within the region. The Black-throated Green Warbler and the Swainson’s Warbler populations within the Parker tract are of particular interest within the region. The results of this study also provide the foundation to examine the response of bird species to future forest management. A number of species showed significant responses to variation in habitat structures that may be subject to management control within a hardwood silvicultural system. Understory vegetation density was an important habitat feature for species such as the Wood Thrush, Swainson’s Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Hooded Warbler. A number of species also showed variable responses to forest canopy openings and other forest structures.