The Beanblossom Bottoms Important Bird Area encompasses over 650 acres of land just northwest of Bloomington, Monroe County, in south-central Indiana. A diverse mosaic of habitats can be found here, including bottomland hardwood forest, successional areas, emergent marsh, small ponds, and sedge meadows.
The area?s namesake is Beanblossom Creek, which delineates the southern boundary of the IBA. Melting snow and spring rains often flood the creek, thereby sustaining the wet meadows and palustrine forests that have become the natural hallmark of the area. These resultant habitats and associated wildlife have made the Beanblossom Bottoms a high-priority for protection within the Interior Low Plateau Ecoregion.
Several parcels of land constitute this IBA, most significantly the 240 acres that have been dedicated as the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve. This tract of land is owned and managed by the Sycamore Land Trust, a local conservation organization that has worked ardently to protect the Beanblossom area. The Restle Unit, located to the immediate north of the nature preserve, encompasses approximately 80-acres of wetlands and is managed by the staff of the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge.
The overall ornithological diversity at Beanblossom Bottoms is the critical component of this site?s identification as an Important Bird Area. As is the case for high-quality palustrine wetlands, throughout the year a myriad of avian taxa can be found at Beanblossom, including neotropical passerines, obligate marsh land birds, migrant waterfowl, and shorebird congregations.
Thanks to the monitoring efforts of Sycamore Land Trust?s volunteers, many WatchList birds are known to breed within the confines of the nature preserve. Prothonotary Warblers, numbering close to 20 nesting pair, are one of the most common breeding birds in the bottomland forested sections; Wood Thrush, Cerulean Warblers, and Kentucky Warblers use this habitat and the surrounding woodlands during the nesting season, too. The dead trees and snags along the palustrine forests additionally provide important breeding locales for Red-headed Woodpeckers.
Beanblossom also encompasses some wet sedge meadows and early to mid-successional habitats. WatchList birds that can be found in these areas during the summer months include American Woodcock, Willow Flycatcher, Prairie Warbler, and Henslow?s Sparrow. With approximately 10 nesting pair in the area, Willow Flycatchers are the most common of these, but the occurrence of nesting Henslow?s Sparrow is significant considering the species? precipitous decline throughout the continent in the last 40 years.
The sections of emergent marsh within the property have provided important habitats for migrant and nesting wetland avifauna. State-endangered Virginia Rails are annual migrants at the nature preserve, and King Rails, also state-listed and very rare throughout Indiana, have been seen here during the breeding season. The Restle Unit, located along the northern border of the Beanblossom IBA, is managed by Muscatatuck NWR staff for migrant waterfowl, and, when appropriate conditions prevail, mudflats are exposed here for transient shorebirds.
The Beanblossom complex includes acreage owned by the Sycamore Land Trust, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a privately-owned restored wetland. Altogether, nearly 520 acres are protected. The Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, Restle Natural Area, and parcels with management agreements - such as those owned by Grieco, Trout, Brummett, Baugh, and Anderson - are all considered part of this protected complex.