This IBA is a major bottomland hardwood restoration site at the headwaters of the Pascagoula River, the last major unimpeded river system in the lower 48 states. It is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, which has played a major role in the conservation of important native habitats in the Pascagoula River watershed. The site is the northernmost component of the Pascagoula River corridor, an important nesting and roosting area for Swallow-tailed Kites that also provide critical habitats for landbirds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the bottomland hardwood forest is mature with scattered openings resulting from forestry and past wildlife game management practices. More than ninety percent of the site is classified as a wetland and several oxbow lakes exist.

Ornithological Summary

Ornithologically, this site is very similar to Pascagoula River-Ward Bayou Wildlife Management Areas. Areas of the Deaton Preserve have the habitat variability and therefore the hydrology and vegetative structure in the understory in certain places to support nesting Swainson?s warblers, perhaps more so than other parts of the Pascagoula River corridor. Preliminary weather radar observations indicate the river corridor, including the Deaton Preserve, supports significant numbers of migrant landbirds. Common breeding species on the Deaton Preserve and birds of conservation concern include Prothonotary Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Wood Thrush, Carolina Chickadee, White-eyed Vireo, Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Summer Tanager and Acadian Flycatcher. Migrant species of conservation concern include Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Veery and Canada Warbler. In winter, Blue-headed Vireo and Winter Wren are fairly common in appropriate habitats. In the summer of 2001, a recently fledged Sharp-shinned Hawk was observed on this IBA, suggesting local breeding.

Conservation Issues

This IBA is dedicated as a wetland mitigation site for state transportation projects that displace bottomland hardwood forests. Most of the preserve is part of The Nature Conservancy?s Old Fort Bayou Wetland Mitigation Bank to the south, which is another Important Bird Area. The few small areas that have been converted to pine plantations are being harvested and restored to upland hardwood habitats. Control of exotic plants, especially Cogon Grass, was initiated in 2002. Archaeological surveys were begun in 2002.

Ownership

Owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.

Habitat

Much of the bottomland hardwood forest is mature with scattered openings resulting from forestry and past wildlife game management practices. More than ninety percent of the site is classified as a wetland and several oxbow lakes exist.

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