Important Bird Areas

Perdido Longleaf Hills FW

Alabama

This site consists of land acquired by the State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (AL DCNR) State Lands Division through the "Forever Wild" program, lands assocaited with the the Perdido River Wildlife Management Area, and additional contiguous lands under private ownership. It contains approximately 20,000 acres of Longleaf Pine Forest and associated habitats along the Perdido River making it one of the largest longleaf pine-sandhill community preserves in Alabama.

Ornithological Summary

Results of the Alabama Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) revealed that Bachman's Sparrow is a possible breeder on lands within or contiguous with this site. The Alabama BBA confirmed Red-headed Woodpecker as a breeder, and recorded Northern Bobwhite as probable with confirmed breeding at adjacent census blocks. With proper management, the site may serve as a potential re-introduction site for the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.

This tract is also known for its wintering population of Henslow?s Sparrows, primarily through extensive research (focusing on wintering habitat needs) that was conducted on this tract in the winters of 1995 and 1996 (prior to state acquisition). See Plentovich et al. (1999).

Additional survey efforts focusing on Henslow?s Sparrows will be reinitiated this winter (2009-2010) at treatment sites to determine species response to management and to estimate population size.

The Perdidio Long leaf Hills Forever Wild Tract will likely be targeted as a potential reintroduction site for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers as planted longleaf pine matures several decades from now (Eric Soehren, personal communication).

The area also provides habitat for the Atlantic White Cedar (along the river banks), the Gopher Tortoise, and Indigo Snakes which are all additional species of conservation concern in Alabama and the region.

Conservation Issues

Lack of fire and abandonment/reduction of land management measures that prevent afforestation may cease to keep the native long-leaf pine forests at a dysclimax state and therefore render the forests unsuitable to many of the target species of conservation concern adapted to the Longleaf Pine woodlands.

Intensive forest management (Loblolly Pine plantations) has removed much of the native former Long-leaf Pine woodlands from this area resulting in degraded habitat that proved unsuitable for many of the avian species of conservation concern in this area including Northern Bobwhite and Red Cockaded Woodpecker. Intensive forest management on private lands within the IBA is still a landscape level threat within the IBA.

Ownership

This site consists of land acquired by the State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Lands Division through the "Forever Wild" program (a state-operated land trust program that was created in 1992), and contiguous AL DCNR Wildlife Management Area lands and lands under private ownership.

Habitat

The habitat at this site is composed largely of Longleaf and Slash Pine flatwoods (open canopy woodland dominated by Andropogon dominated grassland gaps).The habitat at this site is composed largely of Longleaf and Slash Pine flatwoods (open canopy woodland dominated by Andropogon dominated grassland gaps). Restoration efforts conducted to date and ongoing (see Land Use section) will only continue to improve the habitat conditions on this tract thereby benefiting populations of many sandhill-associated species of greatest conservation need to sustainable levels. Additionally with continued restoration actions, minimal population thresholds for species of Global IBA consideration should easily be surpassed overtime allowing for this tract to be recognized as one of the most important bird areas in conservation perpetuity in south Alabama (Eric Soehren - AL DCNR, personal communication).

Land Use

Sites within the Forever Wild Program are conserved from intensive development, and instead are considered for conservation as wilderness areas, natural areas, state parks, etc. Appropriate consumptive and non-consumptive recreational opportunities are assessed on a site-by-site basis within this program. The Forever Wild tract portion of this IBA was formerly logged for timber products.

Lands within the Wildlife Management Area are used primarily for hunting of deer, turkey, and small game within the respective seasons. A variety of land uses are presumed to occur on adjacent private lands which may now include or formerly included timber harvest.

Although under years of intensive commercial silviculture, large scale community restoration efforts have recently been initiated. This tract is currently included in a multi-state sandhills ecological restoration project (funded in part through the USFWS State Wildlife Grant program) to increase the quantity, quality and connectivity of longleaf-sandhill communities to benefit 55 associated species of greatest conservation need including such species as Bachman?s Sparrow, Henslow?s Sparrow, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Southeastern American Kestrel and Swallow-tailed Kite. Current restoration actions on the property include implementation of prescription fire, eradication of exotic invasive species, mechanical or chemical control of hardwood tree/shrub encroachment, and extensive replanting of longleaf pines (E. Soehren, personal communication).

Ongoing restoration efforts will only continue to improve the habitat for the many sandhill-associated species of greatest conservation need. Additionally, with continued restoration actions, minimal population thresholds for Global IBA species should easily be met and surpassed resulting in a site that is recognized as one of the most important bird areas in conservation perpetuity in so. AL (E. Soehren, personal comm.).