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Northern Harrier flying
Northern Harrier © Kyle Wilmarth

Important Bird Area: Mill Pond (Smiley's Pond) and marshes

Map of the Mill Pond (Smiley's Pond) and marshes IBA site

Nominated By

Mark Lynch

Size

4,000 sq. ft. acres

Towns and Counties

South Egremont; Berkshire

Ownership

unknown

Major Habitats

emergent freshwater wetland, lake/pond

Land Use

suburban/residential, undeveloped

IBA Criteria

  • Category 1: Sites regularly holding significant numbers of species of high conservation priority in Massachusetts.
  • Category 2: Sites regularly holding significant numbers of an endangered, threatened, vulnerable, or declining species.

Site Description

This IBA is a small marshy pond near the base of Mount Washington in the southern Berkshires that attracts a good variety of waterbirds in migration and the breeding season. More than any other pond in the area, this spot seems to be a magnet for marsh-loving species. Cattails predominate around the edges, although Purple Loosestrife has appeared in recent years. Dead snags and various shrubs are also found around the edges. This small pond is surrounded by suburban development, although mostly benign. The site also has several busy roads on three sides. This pond is part of the area of The Nature Conservancy's Berkshire Taconic Landscape program.

Current Conservation Status

The presence of Purple Loosestrife in recent years presents a threat to the cattail habitat critical for the rails. The pond is also on a busy road, and Virginia Rails have often been seen crossing the road. There have been rumors of development along the northern shoreline and of even draining the pond, but to date nothing substantial has occurred. Sewage runoff and runoff from nearby highways poses a threat to water quality.

Ornithological Significance

Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal Mallard, American Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Virginia Rai, Sora

Common Moorhen, Black Tern, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Tree Swallow, N. Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow
Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Chimney Shift, Common Yellowthroat Yellow Warbler Swamp Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird

Other interesting birds that have been recorded since 1980 include both cuckoos several times. A single Marsh Wren (very rare in the Berkshires) has been found rarely, most likely migratory. A golden-winged warbler has been recorded singing in the early 1980s but has not been heard since.

Other Flora or Fauna of Significance

The entire area is excellent for odonates. Species like Black Bear have been seen very close to the pond. Muskrats are common breeders.

Data Sources

Sheila Carroll and Mark Lynch have been censusing Mill Pond since 1980.