Important Bird Areas

Perch River Complex

New York

This site encompasses various wetlands, including flooded valleys,
wooded swamps, and wet meadows in the St. Lawrence Valley.
Site ownership is a mix of private and state, including NYS DEC
administered land (the 7,862-acre Perch River WMA). Three lakes,
including Perch Lake, and extensive agricultural grasslands with
scattered wet areas adjoin the WMA. According to the NY GAP land
cover data, approximately 90% of the site is open and shrub habitat,
which includes old field/pasture, shrub swamp, successional hardwood,
successional shrub, and cropland.

Ornithological Summary

This area supports an exceptional wetland bird community, with
a diverse array of wetland- and grassland-associated birds. The site
has supported one of the largest concentrations of breeding grassland
birds in the state. In 1996, there were an estimated one Black Rail, 5-
10 Sedge Wrens, 10-20 Grasshopper Sparrows, and 50-70 Henslow?s
Sparrows within the area. Point count surveys in the area in 1997
tallied 10 plus Upland Sandpipers, 400 plus Savannah Sparrows, 100
plus Grasshopper Sparrows, 80 plus Henslow?s Sparrows, 400 plus
Bobolinks, and 150 plus Eastern Meadowlarks. Northern Harriers
breed here as well (four nests in 2004). Additional species at risk
supported at the site include the American Black Duck, Pied-billed
Grebe, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Sharpshinned
Hawk, American Woodcock, Black Tern, Whip-poor-will,
Willow Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Sedge Wren, Wood Thrush, and
Vesper Sparrow. Many other characteristic wetland species breed here,
including Virginia Rails, Sora, Common Moorhens, American Coots,
Marsh Wrens, Swamp Sparrows, and many others. Trumpeter Swans
have recently bred, possibly originating from birds released in Canada
or privately.

Conservation Issues

Portions of this site have been designated as a state Bird Conservation
Area. The WMA is managed specifically for wildlife conservation.
An inventory of state-listed species was completed in the late 1990s.
Continued monitoring of at-risk species is needed. This is one of
the state?s most important sites for nesting Henslow?s Sparrow, and
management should take this high priority species into account. A plan
is needed to work with farmers to conserve agricultural lands beneficial
to grassland birds. Management on state-owned lands should promote
grassland and early successional habitat. Invasive plants of concern
include pale swallowwort (Cynanchum rossicum), purple loosestrife
(Lythrum salicaria), and common reed (Phragmites australis).