• ProjectsGrassland Bird Ecology and ConservationEastern Meadowlark ConservationVT Meadowlark Monitoring

    Eastern Meadowlark Monitoring

    Annual monitoring of known grassland bird breeding sites is the first line of defense against population loss. By knowing which sites are productive and facilitating dispersal, and which sites are lost or hayed, it allows conservation efforts to adapt accordingly.

    Grassland

    An unmowed hayfield overlooking Lake Champlain. © Kevin Tolan

    This year’s survey period is April 24th – May 8th, 2022

    Visit eBird or email to find your closest Meadowlark site or grassland!

    Locations of eBird checklists and Eastern Meadowlark observations (left). Known potentially occupied Eastern Meadowlark nesting sites in Vermont (right).

    Graph of bird detections

    Detection frequency (% of checklists submitted with a given species included) of Bobolink (black), Savannah Sparrow (black dashed), and Eastern Meadowlark (gray) in Vermont. eBird.

    Survey sites twice in the last week of April or first week of May, each survey for at least 30 consecutive minutes. Surveys should be done as close to sunrise as possible (and no later than 9:00 AM) when birds are most active. Only survey in fair conditions; no precipitation with low winds.

    Secondary surveys may also be done in the evening.

    If your site has active Meadowlarks, visit at least once in early June to see if the birds remain, and if the field has been cut.

     

    Record the birds you observe, along with Breeding Codes if breeding behavior is noted, to Vermont eBird. Share the checklist with the account “grasslandbirds”.

    In the checklist comments please note where the bird was observed (ex: Heard singing north of the road), and if surrounding fields have been hayed (ex. field to north hayed, southern field not).

     

    Thanks to eBird, anyone can contribute to community science and conservation with ease. We suggest following one of two survey methodologies: road-side surveys or area surveys if you have permission to enter a field.

    Most surveys will consist of road-side surveys, as those don’t require prior landowner permissions and avoids the risks that entering a field may pose to the birds.

    Area surveys are done by walking through a field and spot-mapping birds to track their movements and territories. However, care must be taken to avoid stepping on nests. Road-side surveys are done from field edges, such as roads or trails, without entering the fields.

    Breeding behavior, such as carrying food or nesting materials, may be difficult to observe while a bird is aware that you’re present. Once you identify the general territory of a bird, step back around 100 feet (or more if necessary) and crouch in the grass while watching the area. This may prompt the bird to return to the nest and resume care. From there it becomes a waiting game

     

    If you’re new to eBird, consider watching the free eBird Essentials video course or watch our recorded webinar.