Great Mountain Forest First-Ever Officially Recognized Bird-Friendly Maple Syrup Producer in Connecticut

Just in time for production season, this 6,000 acre forest in Litchfield County is being recognized for managing its sugarbush in ways that help declining forest birds.

CONNECTICUT (February 28, 2023)—Great Mountain Forest, a 320-tap maple operation, has become Connecticut’s first officially recognized Bird-Friendly Maple producer. Through the Bird-Friendly Maple project (a collaborative effort between Audubon, Cornell and the New York State Maple Producers Association), they will manage their sugarbush—the forest area where maple syrup is produced—in ways that provide more resilient bird habitat. 
“Keeping our sugarbushes healthy is especially important in the face of a changing climate. Warmer temperatures, changes in soil characteristics, and the shortening and unpredictability of freeze-thaw cycles will impact maple trees, syrup production, and the habitat which birds and other wildlife need to thrive. After the production season winds down, these same forests will come alive with the songs and bright colors of Scarlet Tanagers, Wood Thrushes, and Black-throated Blue Warblers. By improving forest health through bird-friendly management, producers are protecting their businesses and their birds,” said Rosa Goldman, Forest Program Associate and Bird-friendly Maple project lead.
As the first-ever certified producer in Connecticut, Great Mountain Forest is managing their sugarbush in ways that help these birds raise the next generation of their species. Many are in serious decline, and depend on our forests for insects to feed on, cover from predators, and places to conceal a nest.
What makes a healthy bird-friendly sugarbush?
  • Young trees and shrubs provide cover, food, and nesting sites for Black-throated Blue Warbler and Wood Thrush.
  • Snags (dead trees) are left standing to provide nesting sites for woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatch, and insects for Scarlet Tanager.
  • Downed trees and other woody material are left on the forest floor for birds like the Ovenbird and Ruffed Grouse to take cover, nest, and forage.
For 77 years, Great Mountain Forest has been producing maple syrup. GMF’s fourth iteration sap house located near the Forestry Offices in Norfolk, CT was built from forest products sourced from the land and produces 75 to 100 gallons of syrup per season from approximately 320 taps. Some of the trees have been producing sap for over 60 years and that maple syrup has been produced at Great Mountain Forest.
Meticulous records of weather, temperature, sap yield, sugar content, as well as data on the biological cycles of present flora and fauna during the 6-week sugaring season, have been collected and recorded over time at GMF. All these records in conjunction with the daily weather readings from Norfolk 2SW, the National Weather Service weather station operated by Great Mountain Forest, provide interesting observations for present-day environmental concerns.
Visitors are welcome to stop by Great Mountain Forest any time someone is working to receive them! You can call ahead at 860-542-5422. Address: 201 Windrow Rd., Norfolk, CT.
Sharon Bruce, Communications Manager,
Rosa Goldman, Forest Program Associate and Bird-friendly Maple project lead,

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