Important Bird Areas

Withlacoochee State Forest (Citrus and Croom tracts)

Florida

Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter counties
74,685 acres (30,225 hectares) in these two tracts. Citrus Tract includes 52,446 acres (21,225 hectares); Croom Tract includes 22,239 acres (9000 hectares) as of August 9, 2012.

North and east of the city of Brooksville in south-central Citrus County, northern and eastern Hernando County, and extreme western Sumter County. Near the Green Swamp Ecosystem IBA to the east.

Three of seven primary units of Withlacoochee State Forest, mostly isolated from each other by private lands and development. All seven primary tracts are part of IBAs (see below). Acquisition began in 1936 and additional lands have been acquired as recently as 1999. All tracts of the Forest receive a total of 300,000 recreationists and several thousand hunters annually.

Other upland animals include the Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus) and Sherman's fox squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani). Withlacoochee State Forest protects one of the largest patches of sandhills habitat remaining in Florida. Historic cemeteries occur onsite. Part of this IBA has been designated by +Cox et al. (1994) as a Strategic Habitat Conservation Area.

Ornithological Summary

Significant populations of Endangered and Watch List species; complete avian diversity of longleaf pine flatwoods and sandhills; and significant acreages of natural habitats.

The Forest supports a significant population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, and contains all species of longleaf pine flatwoods and sandhills. Bachman's Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, Florida Scrub-jays, Limpkin, and Sandhill Crane are documented as breeding species within the forest tracts. A bird list has been compiled for this portion of the Forest by Hernando Audubon Society chapter members in cooperation with the Florida Department of Forestry.

Conservation Issues

*habitat succession, exotic plants, feral hogs, offsite development

Prescribed fire frequency is insufficient for maintaining pine flatwoods in an open condition. Interstate Highway 75 bisects the Forest, which may prevent or hamper movement of some species (e.g., black bears) between the Forest and adjacent areas. There is potential for contradictory management goals (e.g., timber production vs. wildlife habitat).

Habitat

*longleaf pine flatwoods, *sandhills, pine plantation, xeric oak scrub, sand pine scrub, dry prairie, non-native pasture, hardwood swamp, freshwater marsh, lacustrine, artificial