Birds of the Goose Pond Area

(Birds on the state endangered species are listed in bold type)

Although the Goose Pond restoration project is young, the area has already begun to attract an impressive array of birds. Shorebirds, waterfowl, sparrows, bitterns and rails are just a few of the groups using this developing mix of grassland, marsh and open water habitats.

Short-Eared Owl

Winter birds that have been recorded in the area include northern harrier, rough-legged hawk, and short-eared owl, American pipit, Lapland longspur and snow bunting have also been seen. Large flocks of sparrows seem to be especially attracted to the stands of planted prairie grasses. Clay-colored, field, vesper, Lincoln's, LeConte's, swamp, white-throated and white-crowned sparrows have all been observed from fall through winter.

During spring and fall migrations, especially when water levels are adequate, an extensive list of shorebirds has been recorded. Black-bellied and semipalmated plover, killdeer, greater and lesser yellowlegs, solitary, spotted, least, white-rumped, and pectoral sandpiper, dunlin, stilt sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, and Wilson's snipe have all stopped by this wonderful wetland complex. In addition, during a particularly wet year, some shorebirds that are very rare have been seen at the site during the summer, including black-necked stilt and Wilson's phalarope.

The migrant waterfowl list is equally impressive: Canada, snow and greater white-fronted geese, gadwall, American wigeon, American black duck, mallard, blue-winged and green-winged teal, northern shoveler, northern pintail, redhead, ring-necked duck and ruddy duck have all graced the area during spring, fall and winter seasons.

The grassland-marsh complex is proving attractive habitat for sandhill cranes, eastern meadowlark, dickcissel, northern bobwhite, savannah and grasshopper sparrows, orchard oriole, blue grosbeak and Bell's vireo. Also, some "harder to get" species, especially for southern Indiana have been observed: American and least bitterns, king rail, sedge wren, and Henslow's sparrow.

For this already productive area to reach its maximum potential for all these birds, the restoration must be completed. It is also important to note, however, that the area will need to be actively managed to keep habitats in early successional stages and to manipulate water levels to optimize habitats for shorebirds and waterfowl. This active management will apply to 1,300 acres of prairie grassland as well as wetland habitats. The prairie grasslands will continue to benefit grassland birds which are experiencing rapid population declines. Also, shorebird habitat management is often overlooked in wetland management plans and requires shallow water and mudflats during their long and dangerous migration.