Important Bird Areas

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

Georgia

The Refuge is located primarily in Jones County in the Piedmont Physiographic Province of central Georgia. It is predominately forested (96%) with ~3/4 of the area in pine and pine-hardwood forest on the ridges, and ~1/4 hardwood forest along creeks and in scattered upland coves. Loblolly is the dominant pine species, with some shortleaf pine mixed in. Hardwood species include oaks and hickories in the overstory, and sweetgum and dogwood in the mid- and understories. Creeks and ponds are scattered across the Refuge.

{link:For IBA map, click here.|http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/usibac/2008_P7/GA3108m_PiedmontNWR08.pdf}

Ornithological Summary

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge represents a large tract of forested land under permanent federal protection. It contains a large area of mature loblolly pine forest inhabited by the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) and the rare Bachman??s Sparrow. Currently, over half the Refuge??s acreage is managed for RCWs, and this also benefits Bachman??s Sparrow. The Refuge is one of five remaining population centers for RCWs, hosting 6% of the total state population. It is also one of five known regions in the state with a major concentration of breeding Bachman??s Sparrows.*
Sixteen species of high conservation priority in Georgia breed at the Refuge. The more prominent of these (?d 20/season) include Summer Tanager, Wood Thrush, Prairie Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Northern Parula, and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Priority species breeding in smaller numbers include Field Sparrow, Yellow-throated Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Swainson??s Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Orchard Oriole.
The Refuge is a good example of a large and intact mature loblolly pine habitat that supports a suite of species particularly associated with mature pine habitats, such as the RCW, Bachman??s Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Pine Warbler. About 65% of the mature pine is ?d 60 years old (age group of mature pine: 40-100 years). Much of the area outside the Refuge boundaries may be forested, but it is managed on a shorter rotation, so mature trees are not produced.
The Refuge appears to support a substantial population of breeding Prairie Warblers. This early-successional migratory landbird benefits from RCW habitat management, which maintains a low sapling-shrub layer used by the warblers. High numbers of singing males were recorded for a research project during 1993-1996. Sixty-six Prairie Warbler nests were located and monitored during 1994-95 of this study.

Sighting Source Key: 1=published reports,; 2=surveys (CBC; BBS; etc.); 3=personal observations; 4=other sources (specify)

Conservation Issues

Development of surrounding areas currently is the greatest threat to conservation of the Refuge, primarily due to its potential to impact forest management practices used for the maintenance of wildlife habitat, such as prescribed burning and timber management. For example, non-attainment of air quality standards by burgeoning Atlanta and Macon could prevent Refuge managers from conducting prescription burns critical for RCW habitat management. Burning is used to control midstory hardwoods detrimental to RCWs. The Refuge recently was granted a temporary exemption from an EPA-imposed burning ban, but this issue will continue to be a threat as development and associated air pollution in surrounding areas increase.
Timber management also may be impacted by increased development, as more people move closer to the Refuge. Well-meaning neighbors opposed to any timber cutting on public lands can bring legal action to stop it. A timber-cutting ban on the adjacent Oconee National Forest as a result of a public lawsuit currently prevents cutting of trees even to prevent the spread of pine bark beetle infestations. Thinning of pines is also an important RCW habitat management tool, for maintaining the low canopy-tree density preferred by the woodpeckers.
Another concern is that surrounding development, if too extensive, will isolate the protected Refuge, making it ?an island in a sea of development.? Such isolation impedes the immigration and emigration of animals, hence the flow of genes that maintain healthy populations of wildlife species.

Habitat

Other is field. Roadside accounts for 2% of the land.