With a burst of tweets and twitters that sound like R2D2 from “Star Wars” movie fame, the Bobolinks circle overhead. After a long migration from their wintering grounds in South America, these beautiful birds have returned to nest in Vermont’s grasslands.
In this month’s episode of Outdoor Radio, Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra join VCE ornithologist Dr. Roz Renfrew on a visit to a farm in South Woodstock where Bobolinks and other grassland birds successfully breed each summer, thanks to careful management by the owners, Mary and Carl McCuiag.
In the midst of steep, continental declines in grassland bird populations, here in Vermont scientists and conservationists are finding surprising opportunities to help grassland bird populations. Grassland birds in the Northeast readily take advantage of open, grass-dominated areas such as abandoned or fallow fields, working agricultural lands like hayfields, and even municipal airports.
VCE is partnering with local landowners though a project called the Upper Valley Grassland Ambassadors program. The objectives are to identify strongholds of grassland bird habitat in the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire, and enlist willing landowners to enhance habitat for Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, and other grassland bird species in economically feasible ways
Luckily, these birds are still plentiful across the country but their numbers are declining. Factors like increased planting and harvesting and more frequent mowing of hay fields disrupts their habitat.
Join Outdoor Radio to learn how these grassland ambassadors are helping on their farm and why these birds are so special to them.
Listen to the show
- View a live map of all the Bobolink sightings this summer in Vermont on Vermont eBird, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, and add your sightings too.
- See results of Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas.
- Learn more about Bobolinks from All About Birds guide.
- Learn more about grassland bird research and conservation at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
- Watch the PBS special, “Plight of Grassland Birds” with Willem Lange.
- Find a brochure of grassland bird conservation in New England to learn more.
Images from the Show
Outdoor Radio is produced in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio.