Among the most disturbing trends in North American wildlife conservation is the steep population decline of grassland birds. Causes vary across the continent: more frequent mowing of hayfields, for example, or the loss of grasslands to crops and commercial development. Birds at risk include Eastern Meadowlark, Upland Sandpiper, Henslow’s Sparrow, and Bobolink.
Recognizing the challenges that arise when birds and people alike depend on grasslands, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies is developing practical solutions based on science and human ingenuity. At work from Canada to South America, VCE engages in research, planning, and on-the-ground conservation. Our approaches have made VCE an international leader in grassland bird study and conservation.
New England Grassland Ambassadors
VCE and its colleagues have extensively mapped grassland bird habitat throughout the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire. Now we are working directly with landowners and dedicated volunteers in Vermont and New Hampshire to enhance habitat for Bobolinks, Savannah Sparrows, and other grassland bird species.
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A leader in grassland bird research and conservation, VCE studies Bobolinks at virtually every stage of their life – from Canada to Argentina. We research the effects of blood parasites and pesticides, for example, and we're using innovative tracking technologies to learn more about Bobolink migration patterns.
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Bobolink Conservation Planning
The US Fish & Wildlife Service selected VCE to write the blueprint for the conservation of Bobolinks, not only across North America, but in South America as well – one of the first such conservation plans to span continents.
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Grassland Bird Conservation
Recruiting and unifying biologists from seven countries, VCE is developing a plan to guide and coordinate research and conservation priorities for grassland birds across the Western Hemisphere.
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Grassland Bird Migration Project
Across great distances they migrate—from the prairies and plains of North America to the pampas and fields of South America. For any grassland bird, breeding and wintering sites matter. Yet we cannot truly know and protect migratory birds until we know their flight plans.
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New England Grassland Bird Resurvey
In grassland habitats two decades ago, birdwatchers sowed the seeds of opportunity. With grassland birds in decline, Massachusetts Audubon in the 1990s surveyed sites in New England for Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, and other grassland bird species. Now we've going back.
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