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Frontenac Forests (ON158)


Frontenac Forests (ON158)

Buck Lake, Ontario

Latitude 44.553°N
Longitude 76.466°W
Altitude 130 - 180m
Area 427.00km²

Site Description

The Frontenac Forests Important Bird and Biodiversity Area is an extensive area of rich deciduous and mixed forest interspersed with numerous small wetlands, lakes, and rocky outcrops. The area is situated in the heart of the Frontenac Arch World Biosphere Reserve. The Arch is a southward extension of the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains; it connects the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield to the richer deciduous forests of the south. The Frontenac Forests IBA is centred on two key properties -- Frontenac Provincial Park and Queen’s University Biological Station -- and also includes the intervening and surrounding forested lands, as these are important for maintaining the values of the IBA and may represent future breeding sites for forest species at risk. The area is largely comprised of intact forest, with sparse residential/recreational properties dotted throughout, and small communities mainly along County Roads 10 and 19.


Significant Species - This area supports one of the richest forest breeding bird communities in Canada. Most important for the IBA designation is the population of breeding Cerulean Warbler. Cerulean Warbler is listed as Globally Vulnerable (IUCN) and Nationally Endangered (COSEWIC). According to COSEWIC (2010), 90 pairs of Cerulean Warblers breed within the Queen’s University Biological Station; 120 pairs within Frontenac Provincial Park; and an additional 50-60 pairs in close proximity. Bird Studies Canada estimates a total of 250 pairs within the IBA. This represents approximately half of the Canadian population and one of the largest breeding concentrations anywhere in the world.

Other Species of Conservation Interest - Several other forest birds at-risk are found in notable numbers within Frontenac Forests, including Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Red-headed Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Barn Swallow, Wood Thrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, and a large population of Golden-winged Warbler. The Prairie Warbler (rare, but not considered at-risk) is found in low density in areas of rock barrens within the IBA. In addition, this is one of the best places in the province to see Red-shouldered Hawk, both species of cuckoo, Yellow-throated Vireo, and many other birds of southern forests.

Conservation Issues

The area's importance to a wide range of biodiversity is recognized by a number of conservation designations. The core of the IBA is protected by Frontenac Provincial Park, Queen’s University Biological Station, and smaller parcels of land owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Its location within UNESCO's Frontenac Arch World Biosphere Reserve confirms the importance of the area to nature and people. More recently, the area has been recognized for its importance as a critical natural area, connecting two very large conservation tracts in the Algonquin to Adirondack Collaborative. The site also falls within The Land Between, an ecotone straddling the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Both initiatives have active conservation programs within the region. Bird Studies Canada, Frontenac Bird Studies, Kingston Field Naturalists, Queen's University, Ontario Parks, and others are actively engaged in research and conservation projects within the IBA and surrounding region.

Despite enjoying a relatively high degree of protection compared to the highly disturbed and fragmented deciduous forests elsewhere in southern Ontario, Frontenac Forests is not without its own conservation challenges. Most of the current development is relatively low impact residential and/or seasonal cottages. The numerous small lakes are centres for outdoor recreation, in particular Opinicon Lake which is part of the Rideau Waterway and includes Chaffey’s Lock.

Intensification of the tourist/recreation sector in the area could negatively affect forests here by opening up the landscape to heavy disturbance, road construction, forest fragmentation, and clearing for construction of new buildings. Forest harvesting within the IBA is currently not a threat but intensification or changes to selective cutting practices could also have severe consequences to the forest and its ability to support the species here, particularly Cerulean Warblers, which require large tracts of extensive, mature deciduous forests.

Industrial development, such as large scale solar farms, is of potential concern in rock barrens and successional fields. This would likely have negative impacts on species-at-risk that depend on these edge and open habitats (e.g., Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Golden-winged Warbler), and perhaps impact forest interior birds (e.g., Cerulean Warbler) through encroachment.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
25 - 1502017Fall
Cerulean Warbler
Number Year Season
12 - 182021Summer
15 - 192020Summer
13 - 202019Summer
12 - 132015Summer
13 - 212012Spring
Loggerhead Shrike
Number Year Season
Louisiana Waterthrush
Number Year Season
King Rail
Number Year Season
Yellow-breasted Chat
Number Year Season