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Grassland birds are in need of our help

By Staff | Apr 17, 2017

Dear Editor:

Grassland birds are in trouble. We are appealing to the public for help.

Many of our grassland birds, like the Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Northern Bobwhite, Savannah Sparrow, and others depend on open shrub and grassland habitat for nesting at this time of the year. Some are just returning from a winter’s stay in Central and South America. Sadly, the amount of suitable nesting habitat in our part of the Mid-Atlantic Region is decreasing, and the number of grassland birds is in decline. This worrisome development is cause for concern and action.

Area residents who own or manage large grasslands are encouraged to get acquainted with and implement conservation practices aimed at saving nesting birds and other wildlife. Delayed mowing, reduced mowing, and rotational mowing are examples of simple techniques that can be used to protect grassland birds and their habitat.

For example, large fields not in the production of hay or used as pasture could be mowed once a year, in the fall, to allow grassland birds a chance to nest and raise a family. In contrast, mowing in the spring can have disastrous consequences and wipe out nests, eggs, and baby birds.

Homeowners with extensive lawns and grassy expanses can help by reducing or eliminating mowing on their property to create new habitat for nesting birds. Taking this a step further, sowing native wild flower seeds can transform a large lawn into a colorful meadow that benefits pollinators as well as grassland birds.

Birds are very important, and we need to pay attention to trends in their wellbeing. Habitat loss may be the biggest threat that they face. Our use of simple conservation management practices can make a difference, especially in the spring and early summer, when grassland birds nest and breed.

For more information, see . Our birds need your assistance for their nesting safety and survival.

Michael Sullivan

president, Audubon Society