Published December 21, 2010
Audubon South Carolina and Bird Life International have designated Lake Conestee Nature Park as an “Important Bird Area of Global Significance”.
The Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program is a global effort to identify and conserve areas that are vital to birds and biodiversity by setting science-based priorities for habitat protection and management necessary to safeguard critical bird habitats. Specifically, IBAs are sites that provide essential habitat for one or more bird species of special concern.
The background research supporting the nomination was conducted by Dr. Paul Serridge (a former CF Director) and other members of the Greenville County Bird Club (GCBC). Paul and his colleagues at the GCBC submitted reports to Ann Shahid of SC Audubon Society which works with the IBA program in SC.
The bottomland and wetlands at LCNP provide an exceptional habitat for the largest known wintering population of Rusty Blackbirds east of the Mississippi. The Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) breeds in swampy wooded areas of Canada and Alaska and winters in swampy areas, like Lake Conestee, in the southeastern United States.
This species has undergone a steady population decline since the mid-1960s due to loss of habitat. Because of a rate of population decline estimated at 10 percent per year and continuing habitat stresses, this species is considered by Audubon as especially vulnerable to continued decline, and is on its Watch List.
Lake Conestee Nature Park (LCNP) is a wildlife sanctuary and nature park encompassing 400 acres of ecologically diverse site conditions supporting a remarkable variety of both breeding and over-wintering populations of birdlife, as well and other wildlife. This rich diversity includes extensive wetlands, riparian forests along four miles of the Reedy River, as well as upland hardwoods, meadows, and successional habitats. Dedicated members of the Greenville County Bird Club have now inventoried an amazing 167 bird species at Lake Conestee Nature Park.
Through the collaboration of highly engaged members of the Greenville County Bird Club, Audubon South Carolina, and the Conestee Foundation, the exceptional birding environment of Lake Conestee Nature Park has been established as a “must see” location for birders throughout the Carolinas and the Southeast.
- Cornell Lab Ornithology: Rusty blackbird