Important Bird Areas

Pharsalia Woods

New York

This site includes a series of high elevation forests surrounded by open
farmland. The area is mostly hardwood forest (maple, beech, hemlock),
and in swampy areas, red maple and red spruce stands. According to
the NY GAP land cover data, approximately 85% of the site is forested,
which includes deciduous wetland, evergreen northern hardwood,
evergreen plantation, successional hardwood, and sugar maple mesic
forests. State Route 23 divides the site, with the southern portion
including the New Michigan State Forest, and the northern portion
including the Pharsalia Wildlife Management Area?the first WMA
established in New York. Much of the land is abandoned farmland
that was purchased by the state in the 1930?s. The site is popular for
hunting, hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling.

Ornithological Summary

Only the Catskills, the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, and Allegany
State Park are higher in elevation than Pharsalia Woods, the fifth
highest spot in the state and one of the few locations outside of these
areas with breeding Swainson?s Thrushes. The site supports an
abundance of breeding forest birds. Characteristic breeders include the
Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper?s Hawk, Northern
Goshawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed
Vireo, Veery, Swainson?s Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Magnolia Warbler,
Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackthroated
Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Mourning Warbler,
Canada Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This
site has some of the largest unfragmented blocks of hardwood and
mixed forest in western New York. The area also has significant red
pine and Norway spruce plantations; the seeds of these trees support
winter finches such as the Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Whitewinged
Crossbill, Common Redpoll, and Pine Siskin during irruption
(high visitation) years.

Conservation Issues

The NYS DEC manages the site for multiple uses. Portions of this site
have been designated as a state Bird Conservation Area. The area is in
great need of bird inventory and monitoring.