Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Foundation For Sustainable Forests Highlights Recent Jim Finley Stewardship Day; Thompsons’ Wood Stream Survey; A Hooded Warbler’s Story

Fall/Winter newsletter from the Crawford County-based Foundation for Sustainable Forests is now available featuring articles on--

-- First Annual Jim Finley Stewardship Day In Moxie Woods

-- Allegheny College Stream Survey In Thompsons’ Woods

-- Announcement Of the Lynn Firth Giving Society

A Hooded Warbler’s Story

The newsletter features a departure from human interest stories in the Loving the Land series to share a tale about a special Hooded Warbler. The researchers refer to him by his band number 2840-82123, but we named him “Aldo.”

The article is written by Bennett Gould

Aldo’s story begins in July 2019 at the Hemlock Hill Field Station near Cambridge Springs [Crawford County]. 

Allegheny College professor Dr. Ron Mumme and student Will Harrod were conducting research on Hooded Warblers at the property and tracking the nesting activity of Aldo’s parents.

Aldo was only a four-day-old nestling when Mumme and Harrod gave him a leg identification band. 

The pair of researchers then spent several weeks tracking Aldo’s development while he was raised exclusively by his mother; Aldo’s father had deserted the nest. 

Harrod and Mumme even featured Aldo in an article for Ibis, the journal of the British Ornithologists’ Union, about “single mom” Hooded Warblers raising their broods.

Fast forward to the present, 2022. A team of researchers, led by the [Pittsburgh-based] National Aviary’s Dr. Steven Latta, are conducting a multi-year study of the connection between FSF’s ecological forestry and songbird diversity and habitat availability. 

Their fieldwork takes place at six FSF [Foundation for Sustainable Forests] properties during the early morning flourish of avian activity. 

The crew uses mist nets placed in gaps within the forest to sample bird abundance and diversity. These specialized nets allow for the careful capture of birds so the team’s expert handlers can take bodily measurements and assign identification bands before release back to the woods.

While working at FSF’s Moxie Woods near Greenville [Mercer County] on a June morning, the research team made an exciting discovery. An already-banded Hooded Warbler made its way into the mist net, but its bands didn’t match the study’s log. 

The warbler was Aldo, wearing his ID from Hemlock Hill!

Over the past twelve years, Mumme has banded more than 1,500 Hooded Warblers at Hemlock Hill, but Aldo is the first to be recaptured elsewhere. 

While rare to recapture migratory songbirds, it is exceedingly special to catch an adult that was banded as a nestling. It gives a glimpse into how offspring leave the parents’ nest to find their own home. 

After fledging at Hemlock Hill in 2019, Aldo made a flight to the tropics, then returned to northwest PA and chose Moxie Woods as a nesting territory of his own, just 30 miles from his birthplace. 

This frequent flyer has since made two more round trips and is probably on his way south again right now.

Beyond the long odds of researchers finding Aldo years later, this chance connection also validates our work.

You see, Aldo is a product of forest protection. Moxie Woods has not always provided the woodland habitat on which Hooded Warblers rely; It was once an active farm with field and pasture. 

In the early 1980’s, the property became a retreat for the Moxie Cooperative Community, a group based on shared values of organics, environmental sustainability, and human rights. 

In 2016, Moxie founders Jean Engle and Glorianne Leck donated the 128 acre property to FSF for a nominal cost to carry on the Co-op’s legacy of land stewardship and wildlife habitat preservation.

Moxie Woods has had a long journey, with years of conscientious management, to become a habitat-rich forest.

The Hemlock Hill Field Station, where Aldo was raised by his mother, also carries a legacy of habitat protection. 

The property has been used for ornithological research since the early 1980’s and is a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. 

In 2021, Hemlock Hill owner and ornithologist Gene Morton donated a conservation easement on the property to the French Creek Valley Conservancy.

We are inspired by the connection Aldo has made between these two protected properties. His story affirms the importance of habitat conservation. Safe travels, Aldo.

Hopefully we catch up with you again next year!

Upcoming Events

-- January 20: Woods & Water Film Series

-- February 24: Woods & Water Film Series

-- March 17: Vernal Pool Exploration

-- March 31: Woods & Water Film Series

-- May 7: Lynn Firth Wildflower Walk

-- September 15: Friends of the Foundation Dinner

-- September 16: Loving The Land Through Working Forests Conference

Click Here to learn more about these and other upcoming events.

For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Foundation For Sustainable Forests website or call 814-694-5830. Click Here to sign up for updates (top of page).  Click Here to support their work.

Related Articles:

-- PA Forestry Association Honors Allyson Muth, Michael Powell, Linda Finley In Penn State's Dept. Of Ecosystem Science & Management  [PaEN]

-- Navy Veteran, Penn State Forest Ecosystem Major John Buckley Named 2023 National Veterans Leadership Foundation Fellow

-- WeConservePA: Donation Of Historic Oakford Park Land In Westmoreland County Protects Acres For A New Community Greenspace  [PaEN]

-- Manada Conservancy Acquires 40 Acre Preserve In Dauphin County  [PaEN]

[Posted: November 29, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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