IBA Frontenac Forests
Buck Lake, Ontario
Site Summary
ON158 Latitude
44.553° N
76.466° W
130 - 180 m
427.00 km²
Temperate deciduous forest, Temperate mixed forest, Freshwater lakes & pools, Freshwater marshes & swamps, Rivers, Streams
Land Use:
Agriculture, Nature conservation and research, Forestry, Hunting, Not Utilized (Natural Area), Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Housing and urban areas, Habitat effects - logging, Recreational activities, Invasive alien species, Livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: Natural Area, Nature Conservancy (owned by), National Historic Site, Provincial Park (including Marine), Research Station (privately owned), World Biosphere Reserve
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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.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Cerulean Warbler 2007 - 2018 SP 13 - 30
Cerulean Warbler 1996 - 2020 SU 12 - 20
King Rail 2012 SU 1
Loggerhead Shrike 1990 SP 2
Loggerhead Shrike 2002 SU 2
Louisiana Waterthrush 2014 SP 5
Rusty Blackbird 2016 - 2017 FA 25 - 150
Rusty Blackbird 2012 - 2016 SP 23 - 40
Yellow-breasted Chat 2015 SU 1
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
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.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
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