Important Bird Areas

Couch Hill Preserve

Redding (Fairfield County)

Status: State Level IBA

Ownership: Town of Redding

Size: ~35 Acres

Location: 41° 20' 8.8794" N, 73° 21' 36.72" W

Primary—Grassland/high meadow

Land Use:
Primary—Nature and wildlife conservation (~90%)
Secondary—Tourism (~10%)

Minor—Couch Hill is subject to disturbance to birds and habitat by dog walkers and horseback riders
Potential—Habitat conversion

Site Description: Adjacent to Huntington State Park, Couch Hill Preserve is a 35-acre grassland-high meadow, owned by the Town of Redding since 1999. It is an excellent site for Bobolinks, a Connecticut Species of Special Concern, with approximately 10-20 breeding pairs over the past five years. The highest count for the total number of Bobolinks was 33 individuals on June 28, 2014. Monitoring counts (every May and June), using the CT-DEEP/Wildlife Division Grassland Bird Monitoring Protocol, have been conducted here since 1998.

Couch Hill Preserve and a nearby privately owned site each support more Bobolink than any other location in Fairfield County and in combination, provide what is probably an important “source” population for the state.

IBA Criteria Met:

2) Site Important to Species of Continental or Regional Concern: The site regularly supports nesting Bobolink.

Species Season Max. #/Season Which Years Source
Bobolinks – Couch Hill Breeding Males: 18; Females/IM: 18 2014 Standardized surveys
Bobolinks – Couch Hill Breeding Males: 23; Females/IM: 8 2013 Standardized surveys
Bobolinks – Couch Hill Breeding Males: 14; Females/IM: 6 2012 Standardized surveys
Bobolinks – Couch Hill Breeding Males: 9; Females/IM: 6 2011 Standardized surveys
Bobolinks – Couch Hill Breeding Males: 12; Females/IM: 5 2010 Standardized surveys

3) Site Important to Endangered or Threatened Species in Connecticut: An Eastern Meadowlark was recorded at Couch Hill during the breeding season in 2013.

5) Site that Contains Rare or Unique Habitat within the State/Region or an Exceptional Representative of a Natural Habitat, and that Holds Important Species or Species Assemblages Largely Restricted to a Distinctive Habitat Type: The 127 acres of grassland-high meadow areas of Couch Hill Preserve are a rare habitat type in Connecticut. “Less than one-tenth of one percent (<0.1%) of the area of CT, or less than 2,000 acres, is permanently protected and actively managed for grassland habitat.”— Connecticut Grasslands Working Group, 2003

Existing Conservation Measures: The site is managed with mowing being done in mid- to late-August, after the breeding season.  Couch Hill Preserve is under the jurisdiction of the Redding Conservation Commission and Fred Schoder (former Treasurer of COA) has provided input on its management. The fields at Couch Hill were limed and fertilized this past spring prior to Boblink arrival to improve fields for farming and to keep the grasses healthy for bobolink.

Sources of Information:

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