Pennsylvania Boreal Forest Birds

May 04, 2019

5:00 PM

Visitor Center Gallery

2019 Spring Lecture

Swainson’s thrush, a species of concern in this habitat


Long time ornithologist Doug Gross will discuss the state of the boreal conifer forests that support many bird species, an entire ecosystem that is currently threatened. The lecture will cover what surveys and actions are taking place to conserve these areas and the birds that call them home.

Pennsylvania mountain conifer forests found primarily on glaciated parts of the Allegheny Plateau, are dominated by spruce and hemlock, but diminished from pre-settlement forest. Unlike other Appalachian Mountain spruce forests, those in Pennsylvania are mostly palustrine woodlands. The boreal conifer forests that support bird species of conservation concern are peatlands at headwaters of high quality cold water streams. They are habitat islands, isolated from other boreal forests but nested within large forest blocks. The timber era (late 1800’s - early 1900’s) destroyed most spruce forests, but there has been partial recovery of both the plant and bird communities through benign neglect. 

Doug Gross has a long-time abiding interest in bird study and conservation in Pennsylvania. He has served as a wildlife biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, member of the Ornithological Technical Committee, as President and Board Member of the PA Society for Ornithology, as Regional Coordinator for both PA Breeding Bird Atlases, member of the Atlantic Flyway Council Nongame Migratory Bird Technical Section, active on several committees of the Partners in Flight regionally and internationally. He has been particularly involved with the study of the state's northern forest birds, focusing his attention on the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Blackpoll Warbler, both state Endangered, and writing the Birds of North America Account for the "moss tyrant." In so-called retirement, he continues to study this bird community and strives to educate the public about this precious and underappreciated resource. 

Back to Events