Important Bird Areas

Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

Pennsylvania

The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is a special tract set aside for the protection, propagation, management, preservation, and controlled harvest of wildlife. A 400-acre shallow lake and 70 acres of potholes, ponds, and dikes have been constructed as a marshy habitat for waterfowl. Lands surrounding the lakes, with the exception of shoreline nesting sites, are farmed to provide pasture for waterfowl and other wildlife. The adjacent ridge is comprised of oak and hickory woodlands. Approximately 280,000 people visit Middle Creek annually. In 1997, visitors from 49 states and 21 countries were recorded in Middle Creek's visitor's registration book.

The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is a special tract set aside for the protection, propagation, management, preservation, and controlled harvest of wildlife. A 400-acre shallow lake and 70 acres of potholes, ponds, and dikes have been constructed as a marshy habitat for waterfowl. Lands surrounding the lakes, with the exception of shoreline nesting sites, are farmed to provide pasture for waterfowl and other wildlife. The adjacent ridge is comprised of oak and hickory woodlands. Approximately 280,000 people visit Middle Creek annually. In 1997, visitors from 49 states and 21 countries were recorded in Middle Creek's visitor's registration book.

In 2010, Middle Creek was designated as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area, based on hosting a large percentage of the world's population of Tundra Swans and Snow Geese.

Directions: From Lebanon, take Rt. 897 S. Turn right at Kleinfeltersville. Follow signs.

Ornithological Summary

This area is important to migratory waterfowl and is a primary staging area for Tundra Swans and Snow Geese in early spring. A shallow area of water near a flooded stand of timber is ideally suited for waterfowl. During the winter, abundant rodent populations in the field attract hawks, owls, and eagles. Canada Geese are year-round residents. Other species at this site include Wood Duck, Mallard, Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Gadwall, Coot, and Wigeon. Surrounding agricultural fields support grassland birds, including Grasshopper Sparrows and Bobolinks.

Artificial nesting devices for waterfowl have been placed throughout the area.

Fields are farmed to create pasture for waterfowl and other wildlife. These propogation areas are off-limits to the public year-round.Terracing and other techniques are employed to retard siltation and prevent soil erosion. Warm Season grasses are being planted.

Hunting and trapping are permitted. Check local regulations and obey posted signs. Some areas are off limits to human intrusion.

The site supports a large portion of the Eastern Population of Tundra Swan. A telemetry study in 2001 followed 120 swans tagged on the wintering grounds in MD, VA and NC. 17 of these swans (14.2%) were found at Middle Creek during their spring migration and an additional 2 (1.7%) were found feeding in agricultural fields within a few miles of Middle Creek. (Discussion of the results of this study can be found at http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/lib/pgc/reports/2006_wildlife/51901f-05.pdf). The highest one-day count of Tundra Swan at Middle Creek was 14,700, which, based on an EP estimate of 90,000-100,000, yields a similar percentage to the telemetry study. The exact number of swans using the site each year varies considerably with the weather conditions (especially the extent and timing of ice retreat), but even in "bad" years there are several thousand swans using the site.

Conservation Issues

Threats to this site include understory destruction by deer browse, agriculture chemical runoff and soil erosion and residential development. Owl habitat has been disturbed by recreational use.

Land Use

Used to control deer and Canada Goose populations. Trapping is also allowed in certain areas.