Date: 2/24/23 9:49 am
From: Ken Elkins via CTBirds <ctbirds...>
Subject: [CT Birds] Re: Update On Northwest Park
Hello Paul and others concerned about the land management at Northwest Park and other sites:

Prairie Warblers and other shrubland birds historically are more adapted to changes in their habitat. If humans did not intervene, that young forest site will mature beyond the Prairie Warbler's desired plant heights. In CT, less than 5% of our land cover is classified as young forest habitat (under 20 years old).

The team at the Bent of the River has the longest on-going study of the habitat preferences Prairie Warblers, Blue-winged Warbler, Indigo Bunting, and Field Sparrow. For the past 6 years or more, they've also been mapping and reviewing each species response to mowing and other habitat management. They found all 4 species moved nesting territories when the vegetation was over 2m tall. Prairie Warbler did prefer the "oldest" of those areas, typically 3-5 years after a cut. At the Bent, they've moved to a more erratic cutting regime, to mimic nature more, but it keeps more habitat looking like their preferred vegetation heights. Other land trusts and land managers have their reasons for cutting larger areas at time, which look more drastic to us, but they consider that 3-5 year rotation as much as they can.

A few sites, including Northwest Park might take more than 5 years to outgrow the Prairie Warbler's preferred habitat. Wildlife biologists have found that the old tobacco fields of the CT River valley seem to retain grassland and young shrub habitat longer than the rich soils of the hills.

I hope this helps relieve any anxieties about each of our local patches of habitats. If you're involved with a local land trust or conservation commission that needs more insight into managing for birds, I highly recommend they contact the full time staff of CT Audubon or Audubon CT.

Good birding,

Ken Elkins 
Director, Coastal Center at Milford Point

1 Milford Point Road
Milford, CT  06460
203-878-7440 x101 
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