In cooperation with the Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society, the WCAS is continuing their survey of forest breeding birds to provide information about bird populations of the Rocky River watershed. After WCAS adopted the Rocky River Important Bird Area in 2005, it only seemed natural to them that they take an active role in monitoring the bird populations of the region.
Important Bird Areas (IBA) are tracts of land designated by Ohio Audubon as crucial habitat for birds and other wildlife. The Rocky River IBA consists of the watershed for the East Branch of the Rocky River, which extends from Hinckley to North Olmsted and then north to the mouth of the river in Lake Erie. The valuable forests and wetlands of Rocky River, Mill Stream Run, and Hinckley reservations are all part of the Rocky River IBA.
Over sixty volunteers have participated in recording bird presence at randomly selected points in Rocky River, Mill Stream Run, and Hinckley reservations to estimate population sizes relative to reservation size and plant composition.
The surveys indicate that the relative abundance of birds classified as needing forest interior habitat generally is greater in the broad forests of Hinckley Reservation compared to either Rocky River or Mill Stream Run reservations. However, certain forest dwelling species such as the Scarlet Tanager and Wood Thrush are more abundant at Mill Stream Run and Rocky River reservations, respectively.
Volunteers are also collecting vegetation data to correlate vegetative structure and composition with bird counts. Ohio Audubon had designated The Rocky River Watershed as an IBA (Important Bird Area) because the habitat has been deemed critical for birds and other wildlife.