Litchfield and Morris, Litchfield County
Status: Recognized IBA
Ownership: White Memorial Foundation
Nominator: John Longstreth, Western Connecticut Bird Club, Audubon Center at Bent of the River
Additional Contacts: Keith Cudworth, Executive Director, White Memorial Foundation
Size: ~4,000 Acres
Location: 73° 12’ W, 41° 43’ N
Secondary—Conifer Forest, Deciduous Forest, shrub, field, non-tidal freshwater marsh, swamp, river/stream, pond/lake
Primary—Nature and wildlife conservation
Secondary—Other recreation or tourism, forestry, research, undeveloped
Serious—Encroachment by development
Minor—Invasive or non-native plants, introduced animals (house sparrows), cowbird parasitism, predators (natural), pollution (non-point source), disturbance to birds or habitats (joggers and dogs), hydrologic changes (beavers)
Site Description: White Memorial Foundation is a nature preserve, as well as a site for environmental education and research on birds and other wildlife. The diverse mixture of habitats includes mature deciduous and evergreen forests, as well as fields of tall grass, weeds, and shrubs that are managed for various stages of succession. In addition, aquatic habitats in the form of wetlands, vernal pools, streams, swamps, Cemetery and Little Ponds, and Bantam Lake and River are found on the property. Wildlife management involves bluebird and Wood Duck nesting boxes, logging, and field mowing. As one of the best birding sites in the state, White Memorial Foundation has approximately 35 miles of woodland roads, trails, and boardwalks; birding by canoe in the Bantam River and Lake is also possible. Some of the area’s other features are a conservation center and information booth, nature museum, classrooms, picnic and camping areas, and one of Connecticut’s best natural history libraries.
IBA Criteria: Connecticut Endangered and Threatened species; High Conservation Priority Species; Rare, Unique or Representative Habitat; 500+ Waterfowl (winter) 1000+ Waterfowl (staging); Long-term Research and/or Monitoring.
Birds: Since 1958, 246 species have been recorded at White Memorial Foundation, and 116 of these are confirmed breeders at the site. It is the wide diversity of habitats, including a variety of successional stages and a good mix of both northern and southern forest vegetation type, as well as extensive wetland complexes that truly makes White Memorial important to birds in Connecticut. Because of the diversity of habitats, White Memorial supports 18 breeding warbler species, including the rare Golden-winged warbler. Other state-listed species, including American Kestrels, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks have also nested at White Memorial. Redheads, mallards, Blue-winged Teal, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebes, and American Black Ducks can all be found on Bantam Lake in migration, and over 2,500 Common Mergansers use the lake during December. The extensive wetlands on White Memorial Foundation are probable nesting grounds for Common Moorhen, Pied-billed Grebe, Blue-winged Teal, Least Bittern and American Bittern, all rare and state-listed species. A banding station has been in existence for 40 years, as well as five Breeding Bird Census areas. Both Wetland Bird Surveys and the Bantam Lake Waterfowl Census have been conducted here.
Non-avian Resources: Amphibians are fairly abundant here, but their numbers are declining due to acid rain and road kill. Some regularly occurring and breeding species of uncommon mammals are black bear, bobcat, river otter, short-tailed weasel, mink, water shrew, and hoary and red bats. Cemetery Pond was formed when beavers built a dam across a small stream; this dam actually sustains the pond’s elevated water level. There are many species of state-listed endangered or threatened plants.
Existing Conservation Measures: The property is in conservation ownership. House sparrows, an introduced species, are being controlled whenever possible.
American Bittern, E
Pied-billed Grebe, E
Ave. 12/ spring, fall
Brown Thrasher, SC
Least Bittern, T
Cooper’s Hawk, T
Ave. 2 pairs
Max. 8 pairs
Blue-winged Teal, T
Ave. 8/spring, 12/fall Max 15/s, f