Weymouth Receives Bird Distinction
A ceremony Saturday will honor Weymouth Woods for being named an Important Bird Area.
Audubon North Carolina, the state branch of the National Audubon Society, will host the event at 11 a.m. It is open to the public.
Weymouth Woods received the distinction because it is home to large populations of bird species that prefer a long- leaf pine habitat, most notably red-cockaded woodpeckers.
"This is magnificent for the park," said Susan Campbell, a naturalist at Weymouth Woods. "The restoration efforts have been extensive. It's a magnificent piece of restored longleaf pine forest."
Important Bird Areas (IBA) are strongholds of avian abundance and diversity. A committee composed of state bird experts reviews nominated sites and judges them according to standardized criteria for bird population.
There are more than 90 IBAs in North Carolina.
Weymouth Woods is part of the state parks system and home to an 898-acre natural preserve that seeks to protect and portray the natural features unique to the Sandhills region.
Several endangered and rare species are present in the longleaf pine forest. Long-term monitoring of bird populations through various counts and banding efforts at the preserve have helped establish the importance of its landscape and management for key bird species. More than 160 species of birds have been recorded.
Campbell said that it was an honor for Weymouth to be named an IBA. More than half of the state park system's 180,000 acres qualify or are likely to qualify as IBAs.
"It emphasizes that we're special within the system," she said.
Rangers and naturalists were banding birds during this week so as to help in identifying the population.
Audubon North Carolina and the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation have recently launched a partnership for conserving key habitats for birds and educating the public about their importance.
Weymouth's focus on education was one of the factors that helped the park receive the designation.
The designation does not place any more restrictions or protections on the land, but Campbell said that it may make it easier for the park to apply for grants in the future.
Also, the designation could bring more visitors to the park.
"It's really a bonus when it comes to the public," Campbell said, "specifically birders."
Matthew Moriarty can be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story