|Here are some of the neotropical songbirds found in the Cedar Creek watershed. Pictures are by Bob Hines, author of Fifty Birds of Town and City, published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and are in the public domain.|
Neotropical songbirds are migratory birds that breed in North America and winter in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Allen County, Indiana's largest county has only two remaining forested expanses of sufficient size to provide resting and nesting habitats for neotropical migrant birds. One is the forested dune and swail area of Fox Island County Park. The other is the Cedar Creek forested canyonlands.
In 1997 CCWP received a grant from Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund to study the status of neotropical songbirds in the Cedar Creek watershed. Of 88 bird species recorded May 20-June 20, 1997, 48 were neotropical migrant species. Thirteen of those were "pass through" species and are considered "resters" since their nesting grounds are farther north. But 33 species were within their spring/summer habitat area and are considered "nesters" that breed in this area of Indiana.
Neotropical migrants need deep forest conditions to discourage competitors such as the brown-headed cowbird, which lays its eggs in the nests of other species. Cowbird hatchlings are larger than those of the host species, and they crowd the host chicks out of the nests or weaken them by taking their food. Among the best-know neotropical migrants in northeast Indiana are:
In 1999, Cedar Creek Wildlife Project's sister organization ACRES, Inc., received a $5000 IPALCO grant to determine the nursery status of the endangered Indiana bat in the Cedar Creek corridor. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the area is a potential nursery habitat. If the ACRES study confirms that the presence of the bat and/or nursery trees, about 11 miles of Cedar Creek riparian habitat could be given additional protection. Update 2001: Investigations made in the summer of 2000 did not find Indiana bats. But the Cedar Creek corridor is definitely home to other bat species.|
|As late as 1988, Cedar Creek was home to 27 species of freshwater mussels. But a decade later, only four of 26 species previously identified near Cedarville could be found; and near Waterloo, only six of 11 previously-identified species were found. In between, no living or freshly-dead mussel specimens of any species were located. What happened to cause such a drastic decline? The USGS study that made these findings compared Cedar Creek with two other streams in the St. Joseph watershed: Fish Creek in Indiana and Ohio, and the West Branch of the St. Joseph in Michigan and Ohio, each of which showed declines in mussel diversity, but which still maintained greater diversity than Cedar Creek. The study found that Cedar Creek had high concentrations of certain contaminants, especially phosphorus, at the sites where mussel concentrations were lowest. Although other factors such as stream-channel stability may also affect mussel populations, young mussels are especially vulnerable to contaminants in streambed sediments, making pollution the mostly likely explanation for the loss of mussel diversity in Cedar Creek. Source: United States Geological Survey, What Makes a Healthy Environment for Native Freshwater Mussels? Fact Sheet 124-00 (October 2000).|
Transplanted History: The restored
Cedar Chapel covered bridge once spanned
Cedar Creek at County Road 68 in DeKalb
County. Today it welcomes visitors to Liberty
Corner at the Conner Prairie Museum near Indianapolis.
|Left: A remnant of the original Cedar Creek channel in the Terri Hague Nature Area in Auburn. Photo by Mike Walter.|