protecting nesting habitat

The fields between this sign and McCullough Road are now managed to conserve endangered grassland bird nesting habitat. Cutting of hay will not be allowed prior to August 1 each year, and brushy hiding places for predators have been reduced.

You may have heard recently of the alarming decline in North American birds* (1 in 4 gone since 1970s – that’s 3 billion birds), with grassland bird species being some of the worst off.  These worrisome data sparked a collaborative conservation project.  

As do we, bobolinks apparently appreciate North Bennington! A beautiful and increasingly rare grassland species, the bobolinks nest in fields northwest of The Mile-Around Woods.  This is one of the few places where the birds raise their young in Vermont.  However, traditional agricultural harvests have in the past destroyed their nests before the young can fledge.

Now, in partnership with two neighboring landowners, and with the cooperation of Landview Farms, LLC, selected hay fields will be managed to protect critical habitat for ground-nesting birds. The goal of our project is to support successful grassland bird (bobolink, Savannah sparrow, Eastern meadowlark) conservation using through proven approaches: 

No disturbances will be allowed in the fields during nesting season (mid-May through July). Farm equipment will not enter until August 1, and hiding places for predators (feral cats, raccoons, etc.) will be minimized. Dogs must not be allowed in the protected fields during this time.

By continuing these conservation measures over a course of years, the landowners hope to create a sanctuary for returning birds and to provide an education laboratory for local school children.

Grassland project fields south of McCullough Road.

In choosing the fields and designing the conservation project, The Fund consulted with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the organization that wrote the international conservation plan.

For those interested in assisting in bird counts for the grassland project, or seeing current counts, visit this page on eBird (free password required).

For more information about ground-nesting birds see these outside links:

Bobolink photo courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology