Indiana Important Bird Areas Program Priority Projects
Indiana Important Bird Areas Program priority projects:
1. Goose Pond Important Bird Area
The top priority site for Audubon in Indiana is the Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area IBA. Goose Pond is an 8,000-acre Wetlands Reserve Program project located in what was once the Blackwater Marsh in Linton, Greene County, Indiana. Now operated as a state Fish and Wildlife Area, over 4,000 acres of the site is restored as herbaceous marsh and open water, with the remaining acreage in restored grasslands or rented for agriculture. The overall primary purpose for Goose Pond FWA is to provide early-successional emergent marsh and upland habitats. Audubon completed the Goose Pond Bird Conservation Plan (GPBCP) in December of 2010 with the assistance and guidance of the principle stakeholders in the property, including Indiana Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division, The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Sassafras Audubon Society, Friends of Good Pond, and the Indiana Wildlife Federation.
The GCBCP targets 11 species for conservation activities, including: Interior Least Tern, Northern Bobwhite, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Blue-winged Teal, King Rail, American Bittern, Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, Pectoral Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper. Goose Pond has the largest known population of breeding King Rails in the interior portion of the continent. Other species of conservation interest on the property are Sedge Wren, Henslow’s Sparrow, Least Bittern and Bobolink. The GPBCP report is available at the bottom of this page.
More information on Goose Pond FWA is also available through the Friends of Goose Pond.
2. The Indiana Bird Conservation Plan (IBCP)
Audubon’s next priority project in Indiana is to create a spatially-explicit, statewide Indiana Bird Conservation Plan. The goal of this plan is to prioritize habitat protection and management strategies for key stakeholders in Indiana as a holistic guide for bird conservation, and to identify remaining potential Important Bird Areas. The Indiana Director of Bird Conservation is collaborating with the Indiana Biodiversity Initiative (IBI) to model habitat throughout the state for 40 species of conservation need. By working with IBI, Audubon can maximize the use of its resources by not duplicating similar efforts, and add value to IBI’s habitat models. Audubon is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Indy Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, local land trusts, the Indiana Wildlife Federation and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to develop this plan in a manner that each organization can help implement.
3. Important Bird Area Monitoring
In order to implement and test the validity of the IBCP, Audubon is in the process of establishing baseline information on bird populations on IBAs throughout the state using standardized protocols. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has funded a project to survey the forested IBAs in Indiana in 2011 that will allow us to establish a rigorous baseline database of breeding forest birds across the state by coordinating our efforts with Purdue University’s Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment. This study will also survey secretive marshbirds (rails and bitterns) on five major wetlands in Indiana, and test a modified method for detecting the ultra-secretive Black Rail. Other IBAs dominated by wetlands and grasslands currently can only be monitored through a network of volunteer bird surveyors. In 2010 volunteers began monitoring bird populations at Goose Pond, Indiana Dunes State Park and Potato Creek State Park. If you are interested in helping monitor the important bird populations of Indiana, please contact the Indiana Director of Bird Conservation, Dr. Ross Brittain, at email@example.com, or call 812-340-9994.
4. Urban Bird Conservation in Indianapolis
Audubon is a member of Wings Over Indy, a consortium of conservation organizations in Central Indiana that promote urban bird conservation through an Audubon Together Green grant. Wings Over Indy focuses on creating nesting habitat for Chimney Swifts (towers) and Common Nighthawks (gravel platforms). The Indiana Director of Bird Conservation heads the Common Nighthawk Platform Project that places 45 nest platforms on flat rooftops of schools, churches and businesses in Indianapolis. For more details on Wings Over Indy visit their website.
Audubon also coordinates breeding bird monitoring at Eagle Creek Park. Eagle Creek Park has the largest forest patch remaining in Central Indiana and numerous forest birds of conservation concern have attempted to breed there, including Wood Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Cerulean Warbler and Black-and-White Warbler. However, no previous studies have made species-habitat associations on the property or assessed breeding success and survivorship. Beginning in 2010, Audubon began more detailed studies of habitat associations and species demographics to inform stewardship recommendations for the property by measuring habitat characteristics and operating two Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) banding stations. A full report of the 2010 study is available at the bottom of this page.
5. American Golden-Plover Important Bird Area
Audubon is also focusing on the American Golden-Plover Important Bird Area in Benton County. This project is focused on addressing the issue of nutrient loading from the predominantly agricultural landscape while simultaneously conserving the globally significant migratory congregations of the American Golden-Plover, an Audubon Watchlist species. The goals of the project include promoting no-till soybean practices, abating/ and mitigating wind turbine development in the area and reducing nutrient loads in one of the highest agricultural impact areas in North America. Additional target species include Pectoral Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, Northern Bobwhite, Bobolink and Upland Sandpiper.