Riparian Birds of
Ohio Scenic Rivers
One of the primary emphasis of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program is the maintenance and restoration of the forested corridors which cloak the stream banks of Ohio's scenic rivers. These forested corridors are variously referred to as riparian woodlands, forest buffers, or riparian corridor.
Forested riparian corridors, even relatively narrow ones of a few hundred feet, support a rich diversity of breeding birds in Ohio. The quality and extent of these riparian woodlands will dictate the species which can be found.
Many species nesting along the riparian corridor such as the belted kingfisher, yellow-throated warbler, warbling vireo, rough-winged swallow, and even the parula warbler are associated intimately with the stream and occupy those habitats immediately adjacent to the stream channel itself.
Other species such as many of the flycatchers, woodpeckers, vireos, and warblers are found nesting in the interior portions of the larger forests and woodlands associated with these corridors.
Many of these forest interior inhabitants may be absent or vary rare along riparian corridors if these forested corridors are too narrow to provide the nesting habitats required by species.
Forested riparian corridors on Ohio rivers may vary in depth from as little as a single row of trees to extensive forests extending from hundreds to thousands of feet back from the stream channel.
In Ohio, riparian forests tend to be more extensive along rivers situated in the eastern half of the state. In the more urban and the agricultural lands of western Ohio, riparian forests are generally more constricted, seldom extending more than a few hundred feet back from the stream channel.
It is in these heavily farmed and urbanized regions that forested stream corridors, even though they may be more constricted than many of their riparian counterparts in eastern Ohio, achieve their highest levels of importance as habitat for those species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and other plants and animals which are dependent on forested habitats for their survival.
In many areas of Ohio where the former woodlands have been reduced to small isolated woodlots usually no more than 10 to 50 acres in size, these forested stream corridors extending for miles in an unbroken band along the stream banks provide a large percentage of the woodland habitats required by so many species. This is particularly true for many of Ohio's breeding bird species.
The presence or absence of key indicator species is one way to assess the quality of the riparian forests found along Ohio's scenic rivers.