Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bankhead National Forest Hosts Birding Boot Camp

A partnership between the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and the National Forests in Alabama brought a "Birding Boot Camp" to Bankhead National Forest last week.  Eric Soehren, Wildlife Biologist for ADCNR's State Lands and Natural Heritage Program, led a short course for north Alabama wildlife biologists, technicians, and volunteer birdwatchers.  The course is held in preparation for upcoming breeding bird surveys conducted on National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas in the state.  Eric, a leader in Alabama bird conservation and an exceptional birder, provides a course that refreshes bird surveyors on bird identification, particularly bird songs.  Over the three day course, nine participants visited many sites on Bankhead observing birds and practicing bird song identification. 

Data from bird surveys are used to monitor trends in bird populations, identify needed conservation actions, and to monitor response of bird communities to forest management over the long term and across the region.

Participants in Birding Boot Camp

Cerulean Warbler on Bankhead National Forest.  credit Eric Soehren
 A highlight of the "birding boot camp" course was the chance to observe the cerulean warbler on Bankhead.  The cerulean warbler is a bird of conservation concern that breeds on Bankhead and very few other places in Alabama.  It requires large contiguous tracts of mature deciduous forests for breeding.  It is a neotropical migratory bird that winters in the Andes Mountains.

Anyone interested in birdwatching on the Bankhead National Forest should contact the Bankhead District Office in Double Springs at 205-489-5111.  Bankhead National Forest is a part of the North Alabama Birding Trail.  Birding brochures are available at the District Office.

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