Riparian areas support bird populations along Lewis Creek

In the spring of 2020 with VT Fish and Wildlife (VTFWD) Habitat Stamp funding, Audubon Vermont and staff from the VTFWD conducted riparian habitat enhancement efforts along Lewis Creek. These plantings occurred along a stretch of the creek that lies within the Lewis Creek Streambank Wildlife Management Area. Designed to both create shrubland bird habitat and enhance the riparian buffer along a 100 meter section of Lewis Creek, this work took a slightly different approach to riparian buffer planting.

Focal bird species for this work include Golden-winged Warbler which prefers a habitat structure the includes copses of shrubs with saplings for singing perches surrounded by gaps of forbes and grasses. As such, the plantings included two to three saplings surrounded by native shrubs (dogwoods and viburnums), surrounded by deer fencing. Ten plots roughly 16 ft. by 16 ft. were created along a riparian area adjacent to an active hay field. The work was undertaken by staff from the The Intervale Conservation Nursery, who also provided the plants. Although some mid-summer maintenance was needed to keep the plots from being overgrown with annual vines and forbes, the vast majority of the shrubs and saplings survived the dry summer. Audubon Vermont will continue to monitor these plots in 2021 to better understand the effectiveness of this technique and the response of priority birds to the newly created riparian buffer.

Contributed by Mark LaBarr, Conservation Program Manager, Audubon Vermont