Mont-Mégantic, on the Quebec-Maine border, is a mountain near the northern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The town of Sherbrooke is approximately 50 kilometres to the west. The forested mountain reaches a maximum height of 1112 metres, with species composition changing as the elevation increases. The forests at the summit are composed of Balsam Fir and White Birch; mid-elevation forests are mostly Yellow Birch and Balsam Fir, while the lowest elevation forests are a Sugar Maple and Yellow Birch mix. Only the higher elevation forests are included in the IBA.
The Bicknell's Thrush has one of the smallest breeding ranges of any North American species, and is endemic to northeastern parts of the continent. The species is also designated as globally and nationally vulnerable by Birds to Watch 3 and COSEWIC respectively. Mont-Mégantic together with nearby Mont-Gosford is one of a small number of areas in Canada with significant concentrations of this species. Research conducted in the summers of 1997 and 1998 focused on these two mountains and identified suitable habitat that was used by the thrushes. At Mont-Mégantic the thrushes were found to nest above 900 metres in elevation in cool, moist habitat with Balsam Fir dominating, and with relatively: greater density of trees; less herbaceous plant cover; greater moss cover; and more snags and dead trees. The forests where the thrush was found were often forests that had been logged several decades earlier. White Birch and spruce habitat were used but were less favourable.
In 1994, Mont-Mégantic was named a "parc de conservation”, a designation under which forest harvesting is not allowed. Tree cutting has not occurred here since the 1950s. It is uncertain how forest succession in these now uncut forests will affect the future sustainability of the mountain for breeding Bicknell's Thrush. A northeastern portion of Mont-Mégantic is within the provincial Samuel Brisson Ecological Reserve.
There have been at least three historical outbreaks of Spruce Budworm, and considering that the frequency and severity of outbreaks of this species seem to have been increasing in the 20th century, the potential is there for further episodes. Atmospheric deposition of acids and toxic heavy metals, as well as global warming, may have the potential to cause a decline in habitat quality by affecting tree growth and permitting less suitable hardwood species to invade.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
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