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.
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Survey each site thrice during the breeding season (May 15 – late July), each time approximately one month apart. The sooner after sunrise the better but surveys should occur between 5:00 and 9:00 AM, while the birds are most active. Secondary surveys may also be done in the evening. Only survey in fair conditions; no precipitation with low winds.
Thanks to eBird, anyone can contribute to community science and conservation with ease. We suggest following one of two survey methodologies: area surveys (when you have permission to enter a field) or road-side surveys.
Area surveys are done by walking through a field and spot-mapping birds to track their movements and territories. This is effective in providing an accurate count by preventing over-counts. Additionally, it makes watching for breeding activity, such as carrying nesting materials or food, much easier. However, care must be taken to avoid stepping on nests.
Record the birds you observe, along with Breeding Codes if breeding behavior is observed to Vermont eBird. Additionally, 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).
Do not venture onto private property without expressed permission from the landowner.