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Norfolk Forest Complex (ON009)

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Norfolk Forest Complex (ON009)

Walsingham, Ontario

Latitude 42.688°N
Longitude 80.505°W
Altitude 180 - 212m
Area 314.18km²

Site Description

The Norfolk Forest Complex site includes a number of forested areas that are in close proximity to each other or connected via natural corridors. The forests included here are the Walsh Carolinian Forest, South Walsingham Sand Ridge and Big Creek Floodplain, Cultus Forest, Venison Creek, Backus Woods, Deer Creek Valley, St. Williams Forest, Turkey Point Forest, and Ungers Corner. These forests are all located in Haldimand-Norfolk County, within eight kilometres of the north shore of Lake Erie along a 20 kilometre east-west stretch. The forest blocks cover an area of undulating sand plain, with some areas having deeply incised ravines. The habitats are primarily deciduous in nature but some stands of eastern hemlock and areas of conifer plantation (mainly Red and White Pine) are present. Uplands are dominated by Red Oak, American Beech, Red Maple, White Oak, and swamp woodlands are dominated by Silver Maple, Black Ash and in some areas, Black Gum. Interesting fauna found in the site include the nationally vulnerable Spotted Turtle and the provincially threatened Eastern Hognose Snake.

Birds

This area supports one of southern Ontarios richest breeding bird communities. Over 100 species have been confirmed as breeders within these forests, including many species that are at risk nationally: Acadian Flycatcher (endangered), Hooded Warbler (threatened), Prothonotary Warbler (endangered), Cerulean Warbler (vulnerable), Louisiana Waterthursh (vulnerable), and Red-shouldered Hawk (vulnerable).

Acadian Flycatchers breed in these forests - at least three nesting pairs present in 2000, representing over 1% of the Canadian population of this species. The forests also supports Canadas largest population of Hooded Warblers. In 1998, it was estimated that at least 70 pairs were present in these forests, which is over half of the total Canadian population. In 2000, at least 56 pairs were breeding in St. Williams and South Walsingham alone (the other forests were not searched). Since 1995, between three to five pairs of Prothonotary Warblers have nested annually in Backus Woods. This is about a third of the current (2000), declining Canadian population of the species. Outside of Rondeau Provincial Park, this is the largest concentration of this species in Canada. Cerulean Warblers nest in most of these forest areas; although exact numbers are not known, they definitely exceed the national significance threshold of ten pairs. Finally, Louisiana Waterthrush nest along streams in many of these areas - at least ten pairs are present annually (5% of Canadian population).

An estimated three to five pairs (perhaps as many as ten pairs) of Red-shouldered Hawks (nationally vulnerable) are present within the forest complex; this population does not exceed national thresholds, however.

In addition to threatened species, the forests supports a rich forest bird community. Species that nest within the forests include: Broad-winged Hawk, American Woodcock, Black-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Veery, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-winged Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pine Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The presence of numerous species more characteristic of the northern forests are also noteworthy (e.g., Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Magnolia Warber, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler and Canada Warbler, among others).

Conservation Issues

From an ecological perspective, the Norfolk Forest Complex site has some of the most significant blocks of deciduous forest that remain in Canada. In addition to being significant for birds, it contains many species of vascular plants that are considered nationally or provincially rare, and a nationally rare community type (Tulip Tree - Eastern Hemlock).

Large parts of the area are privately owned, while some forests are managed by various naturalists groups (e.g. 25% of South Walsingham Forest is managed by such groups) and ecological restoration programs are underway. Many areas are owned by the Long Point Region Conservation Authority, who have undertaken and plan to continue forestry practices within the blocks. Other parts are within conservation areas (e.g. Backus Woods Conservation Area) or provincial parks (e.g. Turkey Point Forest). St. Williams Forest is largely leased by Aquanorth, a forestry company.

Hooded and Prothonotary warbler studies, as well as Red-shouldered Hawk surveys, are ongoing in several areas. A large study is currently being completed in the South Walsingham Forest to determine the habitat associations of rare forest birds and forest interior species within this block. Subsequently, a model will be developed for forestry product extraction while at the same time protecting the forests rich biodiversity. This study is a joint initiative with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Long Point Region Conservation Authority, the Norfolk Land Stewardship Council and MacMillan Bloedel Limited.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
252017Spring
262016Winter
1002016Fall
1562016Spring
422015Spring
24 - 252015Winter
452014Fall
29 - 402014Spring
552013Spring
252012Fall
25 - 4002012Spring
302011Spring
1002010Fall
292007Winter
Little Gull
Number Year Season
52013Spring
202012Spring
52010Spring
31990Fall
Tundra Swan
Number Year Season
1,700 - 2,2002014Spring
1,5002013Spring
Acadian Flycatcher
Number Year Season
22017Summer
1 - 22017Spring
32016Fall
2 - 72016Summer
12016Spring
12015Summer
12015Spring
12014Fall
32014Summer
22014Spring
2 - 32013Summer
12013Spring
2 - 42012Summer
12012Spring
22011Fall
1 - 22011Summer
12011Spring
52010Summer
1 - 32010Spring
32009Fall
12009Summer
22007Fall
12007Summer
12006Spring
1 - 22005Summer
12005Spring
12004Summer
12004Spring
22003Summer
1 - 22003Spring
1 - 22002Summer
12002Spring
1 - 22001Summer
2 - 62000Summer
1 - 121998Summer
11994Summer
21992Summer
11991Summer
Prothonotary Warbler
Number Year Season
4 - 62017Summer
3 - 42017Spring
12016Summer
1 - 32016Spring
32015Summer
1 - 22015Spring
2 - 32014Summer
22014Spring
12013Fall
3 - 42013Summer
12013Spring
2 - 42012Summer
1 - 22012Spring
12011Spring
12010Spring
22007Summer
12007Spring
12006Summer
12006Spring
12002Summer
22001Summer
12001Spring
12000Summer
11999Summer
11998Spring
11997Summer
61995Summer
Louisiana Waterthrush
Number Year Season
42015Summer
4 - 52013Summer
42012Summer
72012Spring
202000Summer
51993Spring
Cerulean Warbler
Number Year Season
201995Summer
Henslow's Sparrow
Number Year Season
12005Spring
Loggerhead Shrike
Number Year Season
11992Fall
Yellow-breasted Chat
Number Year Season
11994Spring
11992Spring
Canvasback
Number Year Season
5,0002012Spring