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Birds Bring Funding to Swan Trust
On June 14, 2007, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notified Swan Trust  that a $25,000 grant had been approved.  This funding was established under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) for the benefit of wetland-dependent birds, including neotropical migratory songbirds that depend on high quality forests and streams.
Habitat loss in North, South, and Central America is a direct cause of declines in populations of many migratory bird species.  Projects that preserve, restore, or enhance habitat for these troubled birds are eligible for funding.
henslow sparrow  Henslow’s Sparrow
Boiling Springs Acquisition
The grant proposal was written to obtain funds for the purchase of the 17-acre Boiling Springs tract from David and Janice Smith, a local couple who has previously sold two parcels of their beautiful farm to Swan Trust.  The Smiths have played an important role in creating Big Swan Headwaters Preserve.  At the closing in August, Boiling Springs was added to the Preserve, further enhancing habitat for birds.

The NAWCA project also includes conversion of two bottomland hayfields at the confluence of Big Swan Creek and Cox Branch.  Fescue hayfields provide poor quality bird habitat, so the project is converting fescue to native warm-season grasses, such as Big and Little Bluestem and Indian Grass.  These tall grasses, along with the native Broomsedge, provide superior habitat for several bird species.  American Woodcocks are known for impressive courtship displays in native grass fields in late winter.  Henslow’s Sparrows, Meadow Larks, and Field Sparrows may  set up territories, build nests, and raise young in the native grass fields.
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Bird watchers observe a colony of Henslow’s Sparrows nesting in an overgrown field.
Partners are essential to project success. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) donated grass seed, use of equipment, and expertise to the 11-acre hayfield conversion project.  The fields were planted with the native grasses in June by David Smith.

The Important Bird Area Program
The Audubon Society has established the international Important Bird Area (IBA) program to recognize lands that are known to harbor populations of declining birds.  Big Swan Headwaters Preserve and the adjacent lands of The Farm Community provide over 3500 acres of diverse habitats for all birds.  Nomination of these lands to the IBA program was made several years ago based on bird species lists that have been compiled over a long period of time.  Population estimates of birds using these varied habitats during the breeding season are necessary to support the nomination to the IBA. 

Using protocols developed by the state ornithologist at TWRA, trails with marked points were laid out in spring 2006.  In May and June, experts arrived very early in the morning to count birds seen or heard singing at the points along each of the marked trails.  TWRA will provide statistical analysis of the data in support of the IBA nomination.

Henslow’s Sparrows Discovered
Undoubtedly, the most surprising discovery in 2006 was a colony of Henslow’s Sparrows nesting in an overgrown field in The Farm Community.  This year, there were 12 mating pairs in the field.  Word spread via the internet, attracting many birders to The Farm to see, hear, and add this rare bird to their “life-list.” Henslow’s Sparrow is listed as Endangered in seven states and Canada, and is “Deemed in Need of Management” in Tennessee.
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Swan Conservation Trust
P.O. Box 162
Summertown, TN 38483


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