Last Sunday, Gerald Morris did the last nest check of BECO's 2019 field season. The nest (pictured above) was empty, but the adults were still active in the area and Gerald caught a glimpse of a young grasshopper sparrow making a short and awkward flight. The nest had successfully fledged.
This year, we monitored three grassland bird species that nest in hay fields and pastures—bobolink, eastern meadowlark, and grasshopper sparrow—all species of conservation concern in Ontario due to declining populations. We worked on five farms in Grey and Dufferin counties, providing information about the birds and nest locations to farmers and proposing stewardship actions to protect nesting birds, where possible, from the impacts of grazing and hay harvesting.
Each farm implemented different stewardship actions. For example, adding temporary fencing to exclude grazing livestock from nest locations, setting aside part of their pasture for the birds and delaying grazing in these areas until birds were finished nesting, or grazing fields briefly and lightly after bobolink breeding territories were established in late May and not again until after the birds finished nesting.