Important Bird Areas

Aton Forest, Inc.

Norfolk, Colebrook (Litchfield County)

Status: State Level IBA

Ownership: Aton Forest, Inc., P.O. Box 509, Norfolk, CT 06058; contact: John P. Anderson, Executive Director; 860-542-5125; contact@atonforest.org; fax: 860-542-5125

Size: ~1300 Acres

Location: 42° 01’ 35.77” N, 73° 08’ 12.78” W

Habitats:
Primary—Deciduous forest (43%), conifer forest (42%)
Secondary—Riparian/floodplain forest (10%), pond/lake (2%), shrub (2%), field (1%), swamp (1%)

Land Use:
Primary—Nature and wildlife conservation
Secondary—Hunting/fishing, research

Threats:
Minor—Invasive or non-native plants, habitat conversion, introduced animals, development, Cowbird parasitism, disturbance to birds or habitat, predators, hydrologic changes, pollution

Site Description: Aton Forest is largely forested land with streams, fields, scrub lands, old fields, wetlands, and beaver ponds.

IBA Criteria Met:

1) Site Important to Species of Continental or Regional Concern: Aton Forest supports a wide diversity and high numbers of woodland nesting birds that are of continental concern (status 2). It also provides habitat for species of global (status 1) and state concern (status 3).

Status Species Season Ave. # / Season Years Source
1 Wood Thrush B Pairs: 10-15 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
1 Cerulean Warbler B Pairs: 1-2 2002 & 2012 BBS
2 American Woodcock B Pairs: 1-5 2002-2015 e-Bird
2 Black-billed Cuckoo B Pairs: 1-2 2002 & 2011 MAPS & e-Bird
2 Hairy Woodpecker B Pairs: 1-5 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Eastern Wood-Pewee B Pairs: 5-10 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Willow Flycatcher B 1 pair? 2009 e-Bird
2 Least Flycatcher B Pairs: 5-10 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Veery B Pairs: 10-15 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Gray Catbird B Pairs: 15-20 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Black-throated Blue Warbler B Pairs: 10-15 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Blackburnian Warbler B Pairs: 5-10 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Black-and-white Warbler B Pairs: 5-10 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Canada Warbler B 1 pair? 2002, 2011, & 2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Ovenbird B Pairs: 20-25 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Chestnut-sided Warbler B Pairs: 15-20 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Scarlet Tanager B Pairs: 5-10 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak B Pairs: 1-5 2010-2015 e-Bird & BBS
2 Eastern Towhee B Pairs: 15-20 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Bobolink B Pairs: 1-5 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
2 Purple Finch B-W Pairs: 5-10 2002-2015 MAPS, e-Bird, & BBS
3 Common Loon B? 1 pair? 2015 e-Bird
3 Northern Saw-Whet Own B 2 pairs? 2013 & 2015 e-Bird& BBS

The source of the information is five breeding bird survey lines, Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) reports, Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection Grouse Route reports, and individual reports by dozens of people that submitted either written reports or e-bird Checklists. Note that Aton Forest has a 0.75-mile nature/birding trail (with ten stations) that is an e-Bird Hotspot as well.

6) Site Important for Long-Term Research and/or Monitoring Projects that Contribute Substantially to Ornithology, Bird Conservation, and/or Education: Aton Forest, Inc. has been collecting data on birds since 2002. There is a MAPS station for banding birds and five breeding bird survey lines. Bird diversity and abundance data is also collected at eBird hotspots and individual points throughout the Forest. There are more than 770 e-Bird checklists.  Researchers include: Dr. Frank Egler, John P. Anderson, Bob Moeller, Shelly Harms, Michael Aurelia, James Fisher, Roland Clement and others. 

Lastly, Aton Forest, Inc. is a conservation oriented entity that is continuing to acquire adjacent lands contributing to bird conservation in Connecticut.

Additional Bird Information: In the past 50 years, the Great Lakes populations of Sandhill Cranes have been steadily increasing. The population growth has prompted a good deal of eastward range expansion with confirmed and sometimes even regular nesting in PA, ME, NY, and MA. Two pairs of Sandhill Crane have been observed at Aton Forest since 2013 during the breeding season. However, nesting has not been confirmed. 122 different bird species have been observed at Aton Forest (Aton Forest eBird life list and Birds of Aton Forest checklist).

Non-avian Resources: Numerous vegetation studies of Aton Forest exist and have been going since the 1940's. In addition, there are detailed studies of rare plants, amphibians, and mammals.

Existing Conservation Measures: Forest types have been mapped for all of Aton Forest and bird data exists in the e-Bird database for most of the area. Aton Forest Inc. was also recently awarded an IBA Small Matching Grant to map, improve habitat, and increase awareness about habitat management for American Woodcock.

Sources of Information:

  • Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. eBird. 2015. 23 November 2015. www.ebird.org.
  • Aurelia, Mike. "Aton Forest Inc. IBA Nomination Form." 2015.

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