Important Bird Areas

Unami Creek Valley

Pennsylvania

The Unami Creek IBA is located in the northern portion of Montgomery County near the Bucks County line. The IBA is approximately 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Pottstown near the village of Sumneytown and within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The IBA is specifically defined (in part) by a combination of watershed boundaries and areas of contiguous woodland and road boundaries. However, the IBA is generally bounded by the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the east, the limit of the Ridge Valley Creek watershed to the south, Green Lane Reservoir and Route 29 to the west and the county line to the north. The Unami Creek Valley IBA encompasses the extensive forested complex of the Unami Creek and Ridge Valley Creek watersheds. The IBA is largely undeveloped but is surrounded by an increasingly suburban region.

The IBA is characterized by extensive contiguous woodlands containing over 24 miles (38 kilometers) of streams within the Unami Creek and Ridge Valley Creek drainages. The geologic features of a diabase rock that underlies the Unami Creek Valley defines much of the prominent wooded ridges, steep slopes, boulder-covered hillsides and narrow stream valleys.

The dominant vegetative type within the IBA is deciduous forested habitat with scattered pine plantations and shrubby wetlands. The IBA may support eight different forest types according the Unami Creek Valleys Landscape Conservation Plan (Natural Lands Trust 2001). The forest types include tuliptree-beech-maple forest, red oak-mixed hardwood forest, successional red maple forest, bottomland oak-hardwood palustrine forest, silver maple flood plain forest, sycamore river birch-box elder flood plain forest and conifer plantations. Generally, sycamore, slippery elm, and tulip popular dominate lower-elevation forests, while a mix of oak species, red and sugar maple, and sweet birch are found at higher elevations. The shrub understory is composed of various viburnum species such as black haw, as well as spicebush. Particularly rare/endemic flora includes marsh marigold, swamp white oak, showy orchids, four-leaved milkweed, and cardinal flower. Many of these herbaceous species are found in the vicinity of two man-made ponds with wetlands or swampy margins. The larger pond (15 acres, 6 hectares) is owned by Marlborough Township and has been designated a nature preserve; the smaller pond (7 acres, 3 hectares) is owned by Salford Township and is designated as a nature preserve. Beaver have been documented at both ponds. Wildlife species inhabiting the IBA are generally indicative of unfragmented forested habitat rather than the agricultural or developed habitats of southeast Pennsylvania. Mink, southern flying squirrel, gray fox, and wood turtle are other wildlife species found within the IBA.

A majority of the lands within the IBA are unprotected. The IBA includes a 1,200-acre (486-hectare) Musser Scout Reservation owned by Cradle of Liberty Boy Scouts of America (protected by conservation easement by Natural Lands Trust and Montgomery County Lands Trust), a 32-acre (13-hectare) park in Marlborough Township, and the 136-acre (55-hectare) Camp Unami, owned by Diversified Community Services, which is used primarily to provide a camping experience for inner city youth. Land conservation and stewardship are high priorities in the management of the IBA.

Ornithological Summary

The Unami Creek IBA supports a diversity of bird species, especially forest-dwelling species. Approximately 176 birds have been observed within the IBA. Woodland bird diversity peaks between April and September. Most of the land is posted as private property, but can be birded from the roadside.
The extensive forest provides habitat for forest interior birds during the breeding season. Area-sensitive forest interior breeding birds include the Veery, Ovenbird, American Redstart, Scarlet Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-and-White Warbler and Hooded Warbler. Over 30 species of warblers may be observed during the migratory season. The woodlands also provide habitat for six species of woodpeckers. The IBA represents the last stronghold for Pileated Woodpeckers in Montgomery County. The Olive-sided Flycatcher is an annual spring and fall migrant in the IBA. The woodlands also provide habitat for the Eastern Screech Owl, Great Horned Owl, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The steep, wooded ravines provide habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Kentucky Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler. The bottomland hardwood forests support the Eastern Kingbird, Cedar Waxwing, and Northern and Orchard Orioles. The famous Sumneytown vulture roost is located in the IBA. Up to approximately 60 Black Vultures and many Turkey Vultures may be observed from November to March at this roost.
The Kentucky and Worm-eating are on the Audubon?s WatchList. The Wood Thrush and Kentucky Warbler are also identified as bird species of conservation concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS 2002).

Conservation Issues

Largest threat is encroachment of housing developments.

Habitat

There are two man-made ponds located along the creek.

Land Use

A Boy Scout camp and a community camp/park exist within the IBA.