In considering the future of the Long Point area, the plight of song birds and innumerable other plants or animals for which song birds are indicators, should receive more attention. Managing for healthy and viable populations of native birds means managing for healthy ecosystems. Citizens, planners, and resource managers need to pay more attention to the value and ecological contribution of birds, as well as their economic importance.
Why Long Point is so Valuable to Birds?
o It has extremely rich and healthy forest bird communities, many of which include long distance migrants
o High numbers of forest interior species occur such as Barred Owl, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Veery, and Ovenbird
o It has a high number of species preferring uncommon and restricted habitats such as Louisiana Waterthrush (wooded ravines), Prothonotary Warbler (deciduous swamp forest), and Cerulean Warbler (deciduous forest interior).
o Extremely rich and productive marshland bird communities are associated with the Big Creek, Long Point and Turkey Point areas e.g., Tern Colonies, Least Bittern
o Provincially significant populations of species occur at the northern edge of their ranges, e.g., Hooded Warbler, King Rail, Prothonotary Warbler
o High concentrations of rare species occur e.g., Red-shouldered Hawk, Hooded Warbler
o Long Point has one of the highest winter bird occurrences anywhere in eastern Canada, i.e., 100+ species observed in the Christmas Bird Counts
o Long Point is an internationally important staging/feeding area in spring and fall for many species, notably large numbers of migratory songbirds as well as waterfowl and shorebirds associated with the extensive marshes and shores of the Long Point and Turkey Point areas. For example, tens of thousands of Canvasbacks and Redheads use the marshes of the Inner Bay in both spring and fall, this has helped earn Long Point the distinction of a RAMSAR (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) oversees the RAMSAR convention to which Canada is asignatory - This convention designates globally significant wetlands) site designation, one of only five such designations in Ontario
A checklist for the birds of the Long Point area, produced by LPBO (Fazio et al., 1985) identifies 331 species as having been observed in the Long Point area. Of these, some 173 species are known to breed or are suspected of breeding. If this area is expanded to all of Haldimand-Norfolk, the number increases to 187 species, which is approximately 80 percent of all species found breeding in Southern Ontario, (Cadman et al., 1987), and 90 percent of species known to breed in the south-western part of the province (Gartshore et al., 1987).
Extirpations and Additions in the Breeding Birds of Long Point World Biosphere Reserve
Over the last century, seven species have been extirpated from the Long Point area, while twelve have been added (Tables 1 and 2). Most of the extirpations are directly related to human activities such as over hunting, habitat destruction, or pesticide use. Forest clearing in the 19th century corresponds with the disappearance of Wild Turkey, Passenger Pigeon, and Northern Bobwhite. Game birds such as Wild Turkeys were likely wide-spread in the presettlement landscape, but were pushed into "islands of habitat", as much of their habitat was converted to pasture and crop land, facilitating exploitive harvesting. Populations were unable to recover. Reduced populations of Northern Bobwhite were more susceptible to severe winters.
Forest-dwelling species had their habitats reduced to fragments in a period of 30 to 50 years. Grassland and savanna species such as Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird and Loggerhead Shrike may have increased after some of the initial forest clearing.
|Passenger Pigeon||harvesting, habitat destruction|
|Wild Turkey*||harvesting, habitat destruction|
|Northern Bobwhite||habitat destruction, climat, harvesting|
|Piping Plover||beach recreation, Ring-billed Gull & Raccoon predation|
|Bald Eagle*||DDT, but now re-introduced|
|Mute Swan||exotic -escaped and expanding rapidly|
|Little Gull||expanding into North America from Europe|
|Ring-necked Pheasant||exotic - released - status unknown|
|Ring-billed Gull||first nesting in Region in 1945; nesting on Point since mid 1960's|
|Carolina Wren||northward range expansion|
|European Starling||exotic - entered Region in early 1900's|
|Blue-winged Warbler||northward range expansion in early 1900's|
|Yellow-rumped Warbler||disjunct population likely due to maturation of conifer plantations|
|Dark-eyed Junco||disjunct population likely due to maturation of conifer plantations|
|House Finch||exotic - entered the region in the early 1980's|
|House Sparrow||exotic - entered the region in the late 1880's|
New species are from three distinct sources: 1) accidental or deliberate introductions; 2) northward range expansion; and 3) colonization of planted and natural conifer and pine-oak stands by species of northern affinity. The extent to which the presence of northern species is an inheritance of pre-European settlement patterns or of the introduction of plantations of conifers, or both, is unknown. It is possible that these species have always occurred on the Norfolk Sand plains; for example in New York State, the Hermit Thrush breeds in the pine barrens of Long Island. Other "northerly" species with disjunct populations in the Haldimand-Norfolk area include Solitary Vireo, Northern Goshawk, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finch, Dark-eyed Junco and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Perhaps even more significant are the southerly species that not only occur on or near the northern extreme of their ranges in Haldimand-Norfolk, but also have substantial populations in the Long Point region. The largest Canadian populations of Hooded Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush are found in Haldimand-Norfolk. Judging from the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, this region may also harbour the main Canadian populations of other southerly species including: Prothonotary Warbler, Cerulean Warbler (which also has a separate significant population in Eastern Ontario), Blue-winged Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
Tables 3 and 4 are lists of significant breeding birds of the Haldimand-Norfolk area which are moderately to highly vulnerable to human activities. All of these species are to a certain extent habitat specialists.
|Species||number of locations
Natural Areas Inventory(NA)
|Species||number of locations|
|Common Barn Owl||1|
|Species||Frequency/Abundance (1)||Area Sensitivity||Habitat Specialty (2)||Vulnerability|
|American Bittern||1/1||moderate to high||*marsh/wetland||high - (unconm. in S.W. Ont.)|
|Least Bittern||4/8||moderate to high||*marsh/wetland||high - (rare in S.W. Ont.)|
|Great Blue Heron||49/396||moderate to high||woodland - tall trees||high- disturbance|
|Bald Eagle||4||high||woodland - remote||high|
|Sharp-Shinned Hawk||14/14||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Cooper's Hawk||15/16||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Northern Goshawk||4/4||high||forest interior||high|
|Red-Shouldered Hawk||23/28||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Broad-Winged Hawk||45/47||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Upland Sandpiper||7/12||high||*grasslands||moderate to high|
|Common Tern||1/1||low||*beach||high - disturbance, predation|
|Forster's Tern||2/10||high||*marshlands||moderate to high|
|Black Tern||3/38||high||*marshlands||moderate to high|
|Barred Owl||3/4||high||*forest interior||high|
|Northern Saw-Whet Owl||2/2||moderate to high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Whip-Poor-Will||7/14||high||*savanna/oak forest||moderate to high|
|Yellow-bellied Sapsucker||45/79||moderate to high||*forest interior||moderate|
|Pileated Woodpecker||78/97||high||forest interior||moderate to high|
|Acadian Flycatcher||8/8||high||*forest interior||high|
|Winter Wren||11/11||moderate to high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Blue Gray Gnatcatcher||67/97||high||*forest interior - edge||moderate to high|
|Hermit Thrush||17/27||moderate||*sand plains forest interior||moderate-high|
|Brown Thrasher||45/68||moderate-high||*savanna-edge scrub||moderate-high (declining)|
|Solitary Vireo||30/49||moderate||*sand plains forest interior||unknown|
|Yellow Throated Vireo||108/165||moderate to high||*forest and forest edge||moderate to high|
|Black-Throated Green Warbler||45/75||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Blackburian Warbler||17/24||high||*sand plains forest interior||high|
|Pine Warbler||72/180||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Prairie Warbler||13/17||unknown||*early successional pine||high|
|Cerulean Warbler||48/87||high||*forest interior||high|
|Black-and-White Warbler||27/35||high||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Prothonotary Warbler||9/18||high||*forest interior||high|
|Northern Waterthrush||51/108||moderate||*forest interior||moderate to high|
|Louisiana Waterthrush||55/79||high||*forest interior||high|
|Hooded Warbler||65/133||high||forest interior - tree filled gaps||high|
|Rufous Sided Trowhee||150/310||moderate to high||savanna and forest||moderate to high (declining)|
|Henslow's Sparrow||1||high||grassland||high (endangered)|
|Grasshopper's Sparrow||6/25||moderate||*grassland||moderate to high|
1 Numbers are based on the total numbers given for frequency i.e., the number of different locations where a species was observed - and abundance i.e. the total number of individuals observed as reported by McCracken, in Gartshore et al., 1987, Appendix 1.)
2 All of these species are to a certain extent specialists. Hounsel (1989), classified species by vulnerability and habitat use on a matrix. Woodland habitat was classified by 12 stages of deciduous, coniferous and mixed forest. Species indicated with an asterik are restricted to few habitat types based on Hounsel, and others.
In this sense the map is intended as the basis for more detailed landscape-level research, management and planning that recognizes the landscape pattern as the fundamental contributor to the conservation of the birds. In this case, the size of core areas, the clustering of core and supporting areas, and the connections, or potential connections, among the patches can be used to define the area of overall significance. Significance is enhanced by the relatively low level of human settlement and activity in much of the area.
Within the overall area or landscape, management and conservation efforts need to be focussed on filling in gaps and indentations within forest blocks through natural restoration, as well as enhancement of forest edges and wooded corridors between areas and along water courses. Strategies such as land acquisition, easements and agreements, retirement of marginal farmland, and incentives for management conducive to bird conservation are required.
|Area||Area (ha)||# of Species||# of area sensitive (1)||# of Habitat Specialists||# of Rare Species||Threat Rating||Significance Rating|
|1. Backus Woods||491||81||10||15||4||low||highest|
|2. Big Creek Bend||119||53||1||4||0||low||high|
|4. Courtland Swamp||659||77||6||9||3||high||high|
|5. Cultus Forest||583||60||4||8||4||high||high|
|6. Deer Creek Valley||323||72||8||9||3||high||high|
|8. Fairground Forests||427||59||1||5||0||mod-high||high|
|9. Langton Woods||145||46||3||4||2||mod-high||mod-high|
|10. Little Otter Creek||338||61||5||5||2||mod-high||high|
|11. Long Point||16,260||139||10||25||11||mod||highest|
|12. St Williams||1213||96||19||22||7||mod||highest|
|13. South Walsingham||729||98||21||19||11||mod-high||highest|
|14. Venison Creek||342||69||9||9||3||mod-high||high|
|A. Big Creek Proth.||140||49||1||1||1||high||mod-high|
|B. Clear Creek Valley||647||41||2||2||1||high||mod.|
|C. Courtland Trilliums||100||36||3||3||0||moderate||mow-mod.|
|F. Wyecombe Swamp||170||46||3||4||1||high||mod.|
|15. Delhi-Big Creek||279||71||8||8||2||high||high|
|16. Lower Young Creek||123||59||8||6||2||moderate||mod.|
|17. Monroe Landon's||72||40||3||4||2||high||mod-high|
|18. Pine Grove Forest||37||33||4||4||2||high||mod-high|
|20. Spooky Hollow||333||89||12||13||4||moderate||highest|
|21. Trout Creek||237||62||9||6||2||high||high|
|22. Turkey Point||2325||117||22||18||10||high||highest|
|23. Vanessa Swamp||527||81||11||10||6||high||highest|
|24. Walsh Forest||279||57||9||7||3||high||mod-high|
|25. Windham Swamp||134||56||3||3||0||moderate||mod.|
|G. Delhi Swamp||72||34||0||0||0||high||low|
|H. La Salette Woods||22||32||2||2||0||moderate||low|
|I. Lynnville Woods||43||34||1||1||0||low||low-mod|
|K. Quance Bush||26||35||1||1||1||mod.-high||low|
|M. Simcoe Lupines||66||0||3||4||0||low||mod.|
|O. Vanessa Ponds||22||24||0||3||0||moderate||low-mod|
|26. Nanticoke Slough||51||56||2||2||0||low-mod||mod.|
|27. Nanticoke Heronry||23||35||1||1||0||mod-high||high|
|28. Salem Rockland||70||44||0||3||0||high||mod-high|
|29. Sanduck Floodplain||34||43||1||2||1||moderate||mod.|
|30. Varency Woods||31||35||2||1||1||mod.||low-mod|
|31. Waterford Ponds||23||32||0||0||0||mod-high||low|
|32. Wilsonville Swamp||53||31||1||1||0||low-mod||low-mod|
|Q. Black Creek Prairie||20||48||1||1||1||high||mod.|
|R. Dog's Nest Slough||40||17||2||2||0||mod.||mod.|
|S. Hay Creek C.A.||54||0||0||0||0||high||low|
|T. Jarvis N.E. Woods||40||28||0||0||1||high||low|
|U. Marburg Swamp||87||51||2||3||0||low-mod||mod|
|V. Sandusk Creek||63||30||1||2||0||high||low-mod|
|W. Spring Creek||39||0||0||0||0||low||low-mod|
|X. Springvale Swamp||11||0||0||0||0||moderate||low|
2 Species counted for this catefory are indicated by an asterik in Table 6
Estimates of the degree of "threats" are based on the size and shape of the site, activities noted within each area, discussion with local naturalists and site visits.
Each area has its own collection of issues and stresses that threaten populations in different ways. In some cases, a threat to one vulnerable species, such as fairly intensive logging, could actually increase the population of another vulnerable species.
For this reason, the management of each area, and the activities within it, must be considered separately. However, some of the threats apply to almost all areas. In Table 7, a "threat rating" has been estimated for each area based on the vulnerability of the area's bird community, and the nature and extent of the threat.
1. HIGH: Long term viability of significant populations or functions threatened without mitigating action.
2. MODERATE: Viability of populations in danger only if threats escalate. Problems can be controlled.
3. LOW: Threats minor and controllable, pose minimal danger to vulnerable populations.
Fragmentation of forest patches, house building within natural areas, logging, and the expansion of intensive agriculture threaten the future viability of significant populations in the hinterland forests. A landscape level plan and action is needed to promote the enhancement of connectivity among patches and landscapes through the creation and restoration of corridors.
|Area||Rural Residential Development||Shape (edge)||Gaps Within||Logging Past and Present||A.T.V.'s etc.||drainage||other||Threat rating||Significance|
|1. Backus Woods||`||`||`||*||*||`||`||low||highest|
|2. Big Creek Bend||`||*||`||*||*||`||`||low||high|
|4. Courtland Swamp||*||`||`||*||`||*||`||high||high|
|5. Cultus Forest||*||*||*||*||`||`||`||high||high|
|6. Deer Creek Valley||*||*||`||*||*||`||`||high||high|
|8. Fairground Forests||*||`||*||*||`||*||`||high||mod-high|
|9. Langton Woods||*||*||`||*||*||`||`||moderate||mod-high|
|10. Little Otter Creek||*||*||`||*||`||`||`||high||mod-high|
|11. Long Point||`||`||`||*||*||`||erosion, deer, boats, marinas, exotic species||mod||highest|
|12. St Williams||?||`||`||*||*||`||`||high||highest|
|13. South Walsingha,||?||*||*||*||`||`||`||mod-high||highest|
|14. Venison Creek||*||*||`||*||`||`||`||mod-high||high|
|15. Delhi-Big Creek||*||*||`||*||`||`||erosion-pollution||high||high|
|16. Lower Young Creek||*||`||`||*||`||`||erosion||moderate||moderate|
|17. Monroe Landon's||*||`||`||*||`||`||`||high||mod-high|
|18. Pine Grove Forest||?||`||`||*||*||`||`||high||mod-high|
|20. Spooky Hollow||*||`||`||*||`||`||`||mod-low||highest|
|21. Trout Creek||*||*||`||*||`||`||`||high||high|
|22. Turkey Point||*||`||`||*||`||*||boats, marinas, cottages, exotoc species||high||highest|
|23. Vanessa Swamp||*||*||`||*||`||`||`||high||highest|
|24. Walsh Forest||*||*||`||*||`||`||`||high||mod-high|
|25. Windham Swamp||*||`||`||*||`||*||`||moderate||moderate|
|26. Nanticoke Slough||`||`||`||*||`||`||isolation||mod-low||moderate|
|27. Nanticoke Heronry||`||`||`||*||*||`||`||mod-high||high|
|28. Salem Rockland||?||`||`||*||*||`||quarrying||high||mod-high|
|29. Sanduck Floodplain||*||`||`||*||`||`||isolation||moderate||moderate|
|30. Varency Woods||*||`||`||*||`||`||isolation||mod||low-mod|
|31. Waterford Ponds||`||`||`||*||*||`||recreation||mod-high||low|
|32. Wilsonville Swamp||*||*||`||*||`||*||`||mod-low||low-mod|
|A. Big Creek Proth.||`||`||`||*||`||`||`||high||mod-high|
|B. Clear Creek Valley||*||`||`||*||`||`||pollution||high||moderate|
|C. Courtland Trilliums||*||`||`||*||*||`||`||moderate||low-mod|
|F. Wyecombe Swamp||**||`||`||*||`||`||*||high||moderate|
|G. Delhi Swamp||?||*||*||*||`||`||"urban"||low||low-mod|
|H. La Salette Woods||*||`||`||*||`||`||`||moderate||low|
|I. Lynnville Woods||*||`||`||*||`||`||isolation||low||low-mod|
|K. Quance Bush||`||*||`||*||`||`||pollution-urban||mod-high||low|
|M. Simcoe Lupines||*||*||`||*||`||`||`||low||moderate|
|O. Vanessa Ponds||`||`||`||*||`||`||small||moderate||low-mod|
|Q. Black Creek Prairie||*||*||`||*||*||`||"urban"||high||moderate|
|R. Dog's Nest Slough||*||`||`||*||`||`||isolation||mod||moderate|
|S. Hay Creek C.A.||?||`||`||*||*||`||`||high||low|
|T. Jarvis N.E. Woods||*||`||`||*||`||`||`||high||low|
|U. Marlburg Swamp||*||`||`||*||`||`||grazing||mod-low||moderate|
|V. Sandusk Creek||*||`||`||*||`||`||`||high||low-mod|
|W. Spring Creek||*||`||`||*||`||`||`||low||low-mod|
|X. Springvale Swamp||*||`||`||*||`||*||`||moderate||low|
*I reviewer noted that unregulated use of ATV's is not allowed on Long Point - researchers and managers use them in a responsible manner.
Cheskey, T. 1994. Significant Birds of the Long Point Region Long Point Environmental Folio Series. (Nelson, J.G. and Lawrence, P.L. eds). Technical Paper 6. Heritage Resources Centre. University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
Fazio, V., Woodrow, T., Shepherd, D. 1985. A Seasonal Checklist of the Birds of the Long Point Areas Long Point Bird Observatory: Port Rowan, Ontario.
Gartshore, M.E., Sutherland, D.A., and McCracken, J.D. (eds). 1987. The Natural Areas Inventory of Haldimand Norfolk Simcoe, Ontario.
Hounsel, S.W. 1989. Methods for Assessing the Sensitivity of Forest BIrds and their Habitat to Transmission Line Disturbances Land Use and Environmental Planning Department Stations and Transmission Programs Group. Ontario Hydro, Toronto, Ontario.
McCracken, J. 1987. "The Breeding Birds of Haldimand Norfolk" In (Gartshore et al. eds). The Natural Areas Inventory of Haldimand Norfolk Simcoe, Ontario.
Snyder, L.L. 1931. "The Birds of Long Point and Vicinity" In (L.L. Snyder and E.B.S. Logier eds). A Faunal Investigation of Long Point and Vicinity Norfolk Co., Ontario: 139-228.
List of Scientifc Names of Birds Reported in Text
American Black Duck
Black and White Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blue Gray Gnatcatcher
Common Barn Owl
Eastern Wood Pewee
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Northern Saw-Whet Owl
Pheacticus ludovicianus Rufous-sided Towhee