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Point Peninsula Bird Conservation Area

General Site Information: This BCA consists of Point Peninsula Wildlife Management Area. It covers 1,045 acres of a 6,600 acre peninsula that projects out into Chaumont Bay in the northeastern corner of Lake Ontario. DEC owns most of the western marsh (300 acres) and 745 acres of upland that is primarily grassland (400 acres), but also 345 acres of shrub and forest. It is part of Audubon's Point Peninsula Important Bird Area. The peninsula is a mix of active and abandoned farmland. Working farms in this area primarily produce hay. This site may be one of the most critical wintering areas in the northeast for arctic-breeding raptors, including short-eared owl (endangered), rough-legged hawk, snowy owl, northern shrike, and northern harrier (threatened).

Point Peninsula is located in a bird migration corridor and provides important stopover and feeding habitats for a wide diversity of migratory bird species. This area also supplies critical grassland habitat for a diverse assemblage of breeding, migrating, and wintering bird populations. The marsh and western shoreline support a breeding population of black terns (endangered), as well as substantial populations of breeding and migrating waterfowl. Shrublands and forests also provide important habitat for a wide diversity of migrating birds.

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Point Peninsula BCA Management Guidance Summary

Site Name: Point Peninsula

State Ownership and Managing Agency: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Location: Jefferson County, Town of Lyme, northeastern shore of Lake Ontario.

Size of Area: 1,045 acres

DEC Region: 6

Vision Statement: Manage the area to conserve all of the diverse habitats and birds present. Manage the area to enhance utilization by breeding, wintering and migrating grassland birds. Manage the marsh and shoreline for breeding and migrating waterfowl and waterbirds. Also manage the area to provide habitat for a diversity of migrant birds.

Key BCA Criteria: Migratory concentration site, diverse species concentration site, individual species concentration site, species at risk site. Migratory species include large flights of swallows, large numbers of blue jays, grassland species (e.g. Savannah sparrow, Meadowlark), as well as warblers and other songbirds. Diverse species concentrations include grassland species during breeding and migration, songbirds during migration, raptors during migration and over winter, and waterbirds such as black tern, as well as waterfowl. Individual species concentrations include: Short-eared owl and northern harrier (breeding and wintering), black tern, tree swallow during migration; as well as several species during migration and wintering, including Northern shrike, rough-legged hawk, snowy owl, and long-eared owl. Species at risk include state listed species such as: short-eared owl, northern harrier, black tern, northern shrike, American bittern; and North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) Species of Conservation Concern such as bobolink and eastern meadowlark.

Critical Habitat Types: Grasslands provide critical breeding, migration, and wintering habitat for a diverse assemblage of bird species. Shrublands and forests also provides important habitat for a wide diversity of migrating birds. The marsh and shoreline areas provide important habitat for marsh birds and waterfowl.

Operation and Management Considerations:

  • Identify habitat management activities needed to maintain site as a BCA.
    Manage the grasslands to conserve and enhance their value to breeding, migrating, and wintering grassland birds. Ensure the grasslands remain as grasslands, and provide standing residual cover (ie, patches of uncut grass) for wintering raptors. Wintering raptors feed almost exclusively on small mammals that are most abundant in field with residual standing cover. Fifty percent of the grassland area should be mowed each year in a continuing rotation such that all areas are maintained as productive grasslands, yet winter cover and foraging habitat are provided.

    Expand the amount of grassland in management through fee acquisition or conservation easement. Maintaining adjacent and nearby lands as grasslands will enhance the value of the state lands. As areas around the state land are developed or succeed to shrub or forest, the ability of the small state owned lands to provide adequate grassland area to support bird populations will be diminished.

    Work with private landowners to conserve private agricultural grasslands beneficial to grassland birds.

    Invasive species control programs need to be implemented/continued to control exotics such as swallowort, which is a serious concern. Swallowort displaces grassland vegetation and greatly reduces the diversity and numbers of grassland birds in areas where it is abundant.

    Manage the marsh to benefit Black Terns and waterfowl. As the lake recedes in late summer and early fall the marsh becomes essentially dry. The feasibility of water control structures to maintain water depths should be evaluated.

    Shrubland habitats should be brush hogged as needed to keep them in shrub dominated communities, and should not be allowed to revert to forest.

  • Identify seasonal sensitivities; adjust routine operations accordingly.

    Mowing and brush hogging activities should be completed after August 1 to minimize potential impacts on nesting birds.

  • Identify state activities or operations which may pose a threat to the critical habitat types identified above; recommend alternatives to existing and future operations which may pose threats to those habitats.
    Active management is a necessary component of maintaining grasslands. The amount and quality of habitat would decline if active management is not implemented. Over time, grasslands would revert to shrub and then forest, losing their value to grassland-dependent birds.

  • Identify any existing or potential use impacts; recommend new management strategies to address those impacts.

    Public access during breeding and especially wintering seasons could impact bird populations. It is not known if current levels of access are causing sufficient disturbance to be of concern, but this issue may warrant monitoring, particularly in the winter.

Education, Outreach, and Research Considerations:

  • Assess current access; recommend enhanced access, if feasible.
    See above.
  • Determine education and outreach needs; recommend strategies and materials.
    Educate the public about the importance of grassland habitats for breeding, migrating and wintering birds. In particular, the need to maintain existing grasslands in productive grass communities and the importance of the area to wintering and migrating raptors, which are more prone to impacts from human disturbance. Also, stress the importance of the marsh habitats to waterfowl and marsh dependent birds such as Black Tern.
  • Identify research needs; prioritize and recommend specific projects or studies.
    Provide monitoring of wintering raptor and shrike populations.

Other Issues:
None identified.

Contacts:
DEC Region 6 Wildlife Manager: 315-785-2261

Sources:

Burger, M. and J. Liner. 2005. Important Bird Areas of New York, Second Edition: Habitats Worth Protecting. Audubon New York

NYS DEC. 1998. Point Peninsula Biodiversity Inventory Report. NY Natural Heritage Program. Albany, NY.

Wells, J. V. 1998. Important Bird Areas in New York State. National Audubon Society, Albany, New York.

Date Designated: 9/25/06

Date Prepared: 11/30/05