Wednesday, August 23, 2006

25 Years Ago in West Virginia Ornithological History

Observations of male and female Yellow-rumped Warblers carrying food at Gaudineer Knob, located on the border of Pocahontas and Randolph counties, in June 1981, provided the first strong evidence that this species breeds in the State (Breiding 1982).

Buckelew and Hall (1994) elaborated further on the current known breeding status of this species in the State:
The first summer records for West Virginia came from Gaudineer Knob on the Randolph County-Pocahontas County line in 1975. Since that time, the bird has appeared in almost every location where red spruce of suitable age is growing. Atlas workers found it in Tucker, Pendleton, Randolph, and Pocahontas counties. The first "confirmed" nesting was made on Spruce Knob, Pendleton County, in 1987 (Eddy 1988). In 1982, the population on Spruce Knob was measured at 41 males per 100 hectares (Smith and Hall 1983). This species will probably continue to extend its range in the near future.
Gaudineer and Spruce knobs (4,862 and 4,432-feet elevation, respectively) are representative of the 40 named summits in West Virginia that exceed 4,000-feet elevation, all of them centrally located in Tucker, Pendleton, Pocahontas, and Randolph counties. The slopes of these high mountains are clothed in some of the southernmost remnants of old-growth red spruce forests in North America. Andy Hiltz has prepared an interesting but shameful illustrated history of the logging of West Virginia’s virgin forests from the 1880s to the 1920s, when "Virtually every tree on every mountain was cut down and hauled out . . ."

Sources:

Buckelew, A. R., Jr., and G. A. Hall. 1994. The West Virginia breeding bird atlas. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 215 pp.

Breiding, G. 1982. More on the Yellow-rumped Warblers on Gaudineer Knob. Redstart 49:64-65.

Eddy, G. A. 1988. Yellow-rumped Warbler nesting record in West Virginia. Redstart 55:56-57.

Smith, B., and G. A. Hall. 1983. Stunted spruce-shrub community [breeding bird census]. American Birds 37:76.

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