NEW HAMPSHIRE PARTNERS IN FLIGHT DRAFT MASTER PLAN Prepared by New Hampshire Partners in Flight Working Group John J. Kanter, Co-coordinator, NH Partners in Flight Carol R. Foss, Co-coordinator, NH Partners in Flight Dr. Arthur C. Borror Meade Cadot Richard Cook Chris Costello Diane De Luca Dr. Richard Holmes Dr. Peter Hunt John Lanier Roger Lawrence Chris Martin Dr. Jay Pittochelli Robert A. Quinn Judy Silverberg Ellen Snyder Rebecca Suomala Mariko Yamasaki October 1, 1995 Send correspondence to: John J. Kanter NH Fish & Game Department 2 Hazen Drive Concord, NH 03301 Introduction Birds comprise approximately half of New Hampshire's vertebrate diversity, and are important components of virtually every significant habitat in the state. Bird populations are highly dynamic in space and time, and are influenced by a wide range of environmental factors, an increasing number of which are anthropogenic. Ensuring that native bird species maintain resilient populations in an increasingly human-dominated landscape requires the coordination of all parties with pertinent authority and/or expertise. Problem statement Apparent declines in some songbird populations, particularly some neotropical migrants, highlight the need for understanding impacts of human activities on native bird populations. Several agencies, organizations, and institutions within the state independently have devoted considerable effort to bird research, monitoring, management, and conservation focused on particular taxonomic groups or particular geographic areas. A stable, long-term, cohesive strategy is essential for effective conservation of native birds through the coordinated actions of existing agencies, organizations, and institutions. Mission Statement New Hampshire Partners in Flight (NHPIF) is a partnership of public and private agencies, organizations, and institutions committed to conservation of native birds and their habitats. This partnership works through inventory, monitoring, research, management, and education, both within the state and in cooperation with adjacent states, regional partnerships and national coalitions, using existing and additional resources to address common goals. High Priority Species The NHPIF generated the following list of high priority species based on consideration of the following: NH state list of threatened and endangered species, Rosenberg and Wells (1995), analysis of state BBS trends, Species Prioritization Project of CBO, data from the NH Breeding Bird Atlas, and recent data submitted to NH Bird Records. This list encompasses landbirds only. Although we are currently focussing on neotropical migrants, we decided to generate a comprehensive list of species in need of special conservation effort in the state. The list is separated into migrant and resident categories with migrants including all species appearing on any reference list of neotropical migrants and a few short distance migrants. The NHPIF action plan emphasizes the migrant list. Conservation efforts may address residents at a later date. High Priority Species Migrants Osprey Bald Eagle Northern Harrier Cooper's Hawk Peregrine Falcon Upland Sandpiper Common Nighthawk Whip-poor-will Chimney Swift Least Flycatcher Purple Martin Bank Swallow Cliff Swallow Barn Swallow Sedge Wren Marsh Wren Veery Gray-cheeked (Bicknell's) Thrush Wood Thrush Brown Thrasher Golden-winged Warbler Chestnut-sided Warbler Blackburnian Warbler American Redstart Canada Warbler Scarlet Tanager Rufous-sided Towhee Field Sparrow Vesper Sparrow Grasshopper Sparrow Eastern Meadowlark Rusty Blackbird Residents Spruce Grouse Three-toed Woodpecker Former Breeders in NH Golden Eagle Loggerhead Shrike Henslow's Sparrow Species to Watch Migrants Sharp-shinned Hawk Merlin * Yellow-billed Cuckoo Northern Flicker Olive-sided Flycatcher Cerulean Warbler * Song Sparrow White-throated Sparrow Residents Long-eared Owl Gray Jay * peripheral species Notes: Yellow-billed Cuckoo shows BBS declines regionally but it is irregular in NH and we lacked NH data. Song Sparrow shows BBS declines regionally but is not listed as a neotropical migrant and we lack NH data. White-throated Sparrow shows BBS regional declines. Ecoregions The NHPIF elected to adopt the U.S. Forest Service biophysical descriptions for New Hampshire, using the subsections of that classification system as ecoregions, as follows (see Figure 1): A. Connecticut Lakes B. Mahoosuc C. White Mountains D. Sebago-Ossipee E. New Hampshire Upland F. Vermont Upland G. Northern Connecticut River H. Southern New England Coastal Plain I. New England Coastal Lowland Ranking of High Priority Species by Physiographic Region To facilitate efficiency of effort, we ranked the importance of each physiographic region to each species of concern. Ranking categories were based on best available knowledge of current and historical distributions and abundances of pertinent species. Ranking categories for high priority species by physiographic region (see Figure 2.) 0 No evidence of current or historical population Opportunity for management essentially nonexistent 1 Historically present but currently sparse or absent Restoration would involve major reintroduction effort Possible opportunities to protect suitable habitat in anticipation of natural recolonization 2 Peripheral area for current population in New Hampshire, more common elsewhere in state Limited opportunity for effective management 3 Current population sparsely scattered Management opportunities diffuse 4 Current population widespread Opportunity to reverse negative trends 5 Concentration area for current population Opportunity to protect important habitat and best opportunities to build from current population 6 Sole area of current population, protection essential to maintain species in state Only opportunity to build from current population General Habitat Associations of High Priority Species Breeding Season Forest High elevation spruce-fir - Bicknell's Thrush Mature coniferous or mixed forest - Blackburnian Warbler Moist low to mid-elevation forest - Veery Mid-to late successional forest - Cooper's Hawk Scarlet Tanager Mixed age forest with large standing hollow trees - Chimney Swift Mid-successional hardwoods - Least Flycatcher Wood Thrush American Redstart Dense hardwood or mixed understory - Canada Warbler Shrublands - Brown Thrasher Rufous-sided Towhee Blue-winged/Golden-winged warblers Field Sparrow Barren ground - Common Nighthawk Mosaic of dry woods and open areas - Whip-poor-will Early successional hardwoods - Chestnut-sided Warbler Cliffs - Peregrine Falcon Grassland Extensive open fields - Eastern Meadowlark Upland Sandpiper Extensive dry, weedy fields - Grasshopper Sparrow Edges of dry, patchy fields - Vesper Sparrow Extensive grassland/scrub complex - Northern Harrier Open lands with structures for nesting - Barn Swallow Open water/wetlands Large water bodies with large nest trees nearby - Osprey Bald Eagle Open areas near water - Purple Martin Gravel banks near water - Bank Swallow Boreal forest ponds and wetlands - Rusty Blackbird Cattail marshes - Marsh Wren Wet meadows with dense sedges and grasses - Sedge Wren Open areas with shallow water and structures - Cliff Swallow Urban Flat-roofed buildings - Common Nighthawk Chimneys - Chimney Swift Migration [This section is still under development] Habitat Categories There are four broad habitat categories associated with many of the species on New Hampshire's priority list. 1. Species Declines Explained by Land Use Changes The rarity and decline of several species are easily associated with changes in land use. There are many examples of species' responses to the changes that followed European settlement. The species on NH's priority list that fall into this category include the following: Grassland - all species Shrubland - Brown Thrasher Rufous-sided Towhees Forest - Chestnut-sided Warbler Whip-poor-will Open water - Purple Martin 2. Species Rarity explained by historic pesticide use or low historic density Species in this category were historically rare and provide classic examples of susceptibility of large predators to human perturbations. Intensive monitoring and management will likely always be required to ensure that populations of these species are represented in New Hampshire. Open Water/Wetlands- Bald Eagle Osprey Forest - Peregrine Falcon Cooper's Hawk (may also be effected by land-use changes) 3. Declining Species that have a significant portion of their distribution in New Hampshire (see Wells and Rosenberg, CBO, and BBS data) Research conducted by Holmes, et al. at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest provides some explanations for declines in American Redstarts and Least Flycatchers. More intensive research on the other species (* see separate Bicknell's Thrush discussion below) and greater geographic coverage of these species will be required to develop conservation strategies. Forest- Bicknell's Thrush * Veery Blackburnian Warbler Scarlet Tanager American Redstart Least Flycatcher Wood Thrush * Bicknell's Thrush is unique among these species because of its recent recognition as a separate species and its relatively limited distribution in the Northeast. A significant portion of its range exists in the White Mountain National Forest. These areas are largely removed from active forest management, but are subjected to intense recreational use. Potential impacts from recreational use should be evaluated as part of the development of any conservation strategy. Pollution, climate change, and other large scale environmental problems have the potential to effect the availability of Bicknell's Thrush habitat. Research on the influence of these factors should be reviewed and related to their potential impacts on Bicknell's Thrush habitat. 4. Declining species associated with unique features Urban - Chimney Swift Common Nighthawk Unique Nesting Features - Bank Swallow Cliff Swallow Barn Swallow Education can influence decisions effecting these environments. An increase in monitoring is needed to establish baseline data and target appropriate educational avenues. The association of Chimney Swifts to older growth forest stands should be evaluated. Priority Habitats and Associated Threats [This section is still under development] Priority Habitat List Grassland Shrubland Water/Wetland Riparian/Shoreland High/Low Elevation Spruce/Fir Older-aged Forest Large Forest Tracts Coastal Marsh and Shoreline The threats to these priority habitats need to be outlined as well as their variation in different geographic regions. Associated with the threats to habitat are three basic influences on the ability of New Hampshire to sustain native bird populations. 1. Fragmentation of Natural Vegetation Vogelman analyzed the density of people in New Hampshire to demonstrate habitat fragmentation. Not surprisingly, fragmentation is most widespread in the southern portion of the state where Boston continues to creep further north (Growth Projections). Physiographic regions most heavily influenced by fragmentation include E, H, I. Additional areas around population centers in other regions are also subjected to these problems. 2. Demand for Forest Products 3. The Human Factor Some factors result in direct increases in bird mortality, others have a negative or positive effect on habitat for selected species. Negative impacts Waste Disposal Domestic Pets Positive impacts Agricultural habitat management DRAFT ACTION PLAN Inventory and Monitoring Continue on-going efforts Conduct annual BBS on established routes Monitor breeding Peregrine population Osprey population Bald Eagle population Northern Harrier population Upland Sandpiper population Monitor bird populations in high elevation spruce-fir forests Monitor forest bird populations in White Mountain National Forest and Nash Stream Forest Monitor bird populations at Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge Maintain current list of NH neotropical migrant birds as a part of the Wildlife Information Network of the Granite State (WINGS) Maintain a volunteer reporting program for bird species, particularly through NH Bird Records New initiatives Conduct long-term productivity studies in forest, shrubland, and grassland habitats Implement monitoring program for wetland bird species Implement monitoring program for crepuscular species Inventory shrubland birds, focussing on utility corridors and remaining natural habitat Implement monitoring program for grassland birds, based on results of current grassland bird inventory; inventory grassland & agricultural habitat Conduct inventory for bank-nesting birds in major river corridors; design and implement monitoring program Determine status and species' use of lowland spruce-fir Implement monitoring program on state and other protected lands within each ecoregion Utilize new technologies to update old growth forest inventory; monitor breeding bird populations in selected stands & compare with mature hardwood stands Establish a pilot project to identify important migration stop over locations using banding stations Facilitate communication between data collectors (ex. NH Bird Records) and statewide databases that serve as a reference for research and environmental reviews Research Continue on-going efforts Connecticut River Migration Study Hubbard Brook Studies University of Maine fledgling bird study U.S. Forest Service projects Northeast Forest Experiment Station studies New initiatives Investigate breeding bird distribution patterns and habitat associations in old-growth hardwood forest Investigate pH and aquatic insect populations of former and current Rusty Blackbird wetlands Investigate relationship of forest bird productivity with road and residential housing densities Relate bird population trends to ongoing forest inventory data Promote utilization of existing historical data for long-term breeding season studies Management Continue on-going efforts Work through existing networks to guide management actions on public and private lands by providing updated information Work with forest landowners to protect osprey nests during timber harvesting operations Work with the rock-climbing community to protect active peregrine eyries from human disturbance Work with Pease Development Authority to maintain suitable upland sandpiper habitat and protect breeding colony from human disturbance Extension Forester Training US Forest Service Management guidelines NH Forest Resources Plan NH Forest Sustainability Standards Work Group Ecological Reserve Project NH State Lands Management Team NH Comparative Risk Project New initiatives Participate in management planning processes for public lands Prepare information packet for owners of buildings supporting or with potential to support nesting common nighthawks Identify and pursue opportunities to manage utility ROWs for shrubland birds Identify and pursue opportunities to manage and maintain habitat for grassland birds Provide local and regional planning officials (eg. Conservation Commissions) with information on integration of neotropical migrant habitat protection into land use planning effortsThis page has been accessed times since Friday, 5 May, 1997.