Important Bird Areas

Sault Sainte Marie Clay Plain

Michigan

A large ecoregion containing a patchwork of privately-owned openlands, most of it agricultural.

Ornithological Summary

Supports a significant array of breeding grassland species including Northern Harrier and Sharp-tailed Grouse, and also Short-eared Owl, Le Conte's Sparrow, and other hayfield breeding species.

Conservation Issues

Improper mowing regime is probably the largest current threat to this ecosystem, as it limits productivity and possibly even surviviroship of Le Conte's Sparrows and other grassland species. Should be watched carefully for proposed wind turbine projects, which could adversely affect Sharp-tailed Grouse if they exhibit avoidance behavior (more study needed).

Ownership

Almost entirely privately-owned.

Habitat

An ecoregional IBA dominated by agricultural fields and grassland cover. Forests are represented, with aspen especially dominant with lesser portions of pine, upland conifer, lowland conifer, and other deciduous cover types. Wetlands, especially, shrub swamp, are common.

Land Use

Primary use is agricultural production of hay, with residential use dominant in and near Sault Ste. Marie.