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Six of the 14 species of greatest concern listed in the HCP are birds. Three of these (northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and northern goshawk) are highly dependent on old-growth forest and are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as either “threatened” or a “species of concern.” Fifteen other bird species are considered "species of concern" in the HCP, many of which also depend on mature or old-growth forest habitat.

>Northern spotted owls

Northern spotted owls are dependent on old-growth forest.

Protecting and enhancing forest habitat in the watershed should benefit all of these old-growth-dependent species. Some, such as pileated woodpecker and Vaux’s swift, should benefit in the short term from habitat enhancement projects that create snags they use for foraging or nesting. Marbled murrelets will benefit from forest habitat restoration over the long term as thinning dense young forests gives individual trees enough growing space to develop the large moss-covered branches they need for nesting. Habitat restoration will also increase the structural complexity of young forests, including development of many canopy layers and a diversity of plant species that will support the species spotted owls prey on.

Some of the birds the HCP seeks to benefit, including willow flycatcher and olive-sided flycatcher, breed in the watershed but winter in the tropics. These birds can migrate over 6,000 miles between the watershed and their wintering range in Columbia, Venezuela, or Peru. Other birds utilize the lakes, ponds, and wetlands in the watershed. Common loons breed on the larger lakes, while Harlequin ducks nest in dense vegetation near the mountain streams where they forage for food. Monitoring and protecting all of these watershed habitats under the HCP will ensure that these at-risk species will have breeding habitat in the future.