• Outdoor Radio: Grassland Ambassadors Help Globetrotting Bobolinks Successfully Nest

    A handsome male Bobolink lands in the tall grass to feed and sing for a moment on the McCuiag’s farm. / © K.P. McFarland

    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


    Learn more

    Images from the Show

    Mary and Carl McCuiag with Roz Renfrew are all smiles as Bobolinks sing overhead. / © KP McFarland

    The group head into the large hayfields in search of Bobolinks. / © KP McFarland

    Carl McCuiag walks through the hayfield to get a close look at a Bobolink singing nearby. / © KP McFarland

    Outdoor Radio is produced in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio.


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