Site Summary: Site Summary: Brewster Ponds and Woodlands

Map of the Brewster Ponds and Woodlands IBA site

Nominated By:

Blair Nikula


4,800+ acres

Towns and Counties:

Brewster; Barnstable


town of Brewster, Nickerson State Park

Major Habitats:

45% pitch pine/scrub oak forest, 38% lake/pond, 10% oak-conifer transitional forest, 5% shrub-scrub wetland, 2% early successional shrubland

Land Use:

nature & wildlife, conservation/ land trust, hunting & fishing, other recreation, water supply, utility

Serious Threats:

residential/ commercial development

Minor Threats:

cowbird parasitism, succession, recreation development/overuse

IBA Criteria:

  • Category 2: Sites important for long-term research and/or monitoring projects that contribute substantially to ornithology, bird conservation, and/or education.
  • Category 5: Waterfowl: The site regularly supports 500 or more waterfowl at any one time. The designation "waterfowl" includes birds such as loons, grebes, cormorants, geese, ducks, coots, and moorhens.

Site Description:

The site is located primarily in the town of Brewster. The woodlands are typical coastal plain pine/oak with Pitch Pine and various oaks predominating, and lesser quantities of White Pine, American beech, and assorted other species. The area includes five ponds: Long Pond (743 acres), Upper Mill Pond (253 acres), Hinckley's Pond (171 acres), Seymour Pond (181 acres), and Cliff Pond (193 acres).

Current Conservation Status:

The area consists of the 2,900-acre Punkhorn Parklands Conservation Area, and the 1,955-acre Nickerson State Park, which are Town and State-preserved conservation lands. Recreational use (i.e., powerboats) on Long Pond and Cliff Pond is quite heavy during the summer, but not during the period when waterfowl are present. However, the impact of this usage on water quality may be an issue. A decline in water quality in Long Pond has been documented over the past few years. Brewster and Harwich have begun to address the issue, though it is unclear how the problem can be mitigated.

Ornithological Significance:

Point count surveys indicate significant breeding populations of five, regional, high conservation priority species, and the presence of the Northern Parula, a state threatened species. Waterfowl surveys indicate that the ponds within the area host large numbers of migrant/wintering waterfowl. This site is the location for several long-term monitoring projects.

State Listed Species:





Northern Parula 1, 1993-2001 * *

* None known

Other Important Species:



Maximum Numbers


Common Merganser Winter 680 2002
American Black Duck Winter 610 1989
Baltimore Oriole Breeding est 50+ pairs 1993-2002
Eastern Towhee Breeding est. 300+ pairs 1993-2002
Scarlet Tanager Breeding est. 75+ pairs 1993-2002
Great Crested Flycatcher Breeding est. 160+ pairs 1993-2002
Eastern Wood-Pewee Breeding est. 150+ pairs 1993-2002

Other Flora or Fauna of Significance:

Nickerson State Park's smaller ponds host substantial populations of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata), including at least four state-listed species.

Data Sources:

Cape Cod Lake & Pond Waterfowl Survey (1984-2001)

Cape Cod Christmas Bird Count (1930-2001)

Breeding Bird Point Counts conducted by Nikula 1990-200

B. Nikula, personal observation.

Download the Map:

brewsterponds-iba.jpg 522.32 kB