Local Farmers Use Horses to Restore GWWA Habitat

In the heart of North Carolina’s Golden-winged Warbler country, Audubon NC is working with landowners to restore young forest habitat.

At Allie and Louis’s farm in Ashe County, they grow trees, sheep, veggies, and an all-around meaningful way of life. They are nature lovers at their core and value the grandeur of all that the Southern Appalachian Mountains have to offer.

Because of their experience with animals and their habitats, Allie and Louis recognize the importance of both mature and early successional forest stages.  As a part of their Forest Management Plan, they must conduct periodic timber stand improvement to nurture hardwood growth and productivity.

Aimee (biologist), Allie (landowner/land steward), Ian (forester) stand next to an Audubon Shrubland sign presented to Allie and Louis (not pictured) for their work to restore GWWA habitat in Ashe County, NC. Photo: Craig Snider

Audubon NC teamed up with Allie and Louis’s forester to support planned timber stand improvement by incorporating best management practices needed to restore eight acres of GWWA habitat on their land. They employed tree removal using horses to minimize soil disturbance, keeping current vegetation intact; they also created gaps in the forest canopy to allow light to flow to the floor, where it will encourage the vegetation cover GWWAs need to breed.

Sensitive vegetation like wild yams continues to grow on the forest floor thanks to best management practices employed at this horselogging site. Photo: Aimee Tomcho

Audubon NC believes the farming and forestry of Working Lands can go hand-in-hand with bird conservation. Working together with landowners and foresters, we are able to meet the objectives they set for their forest habitat while ultimately improving avian diversity.

We are happy to report that this spring, we detected a previously undocumented GWWA male singing on their property one ridge over from recently restored habitat!

With a little luck, this male will successfully breed this year, producing young who may find the perfect home at Allie and Louis’s restored young forest.