While birding Hawthorn this morning, I decided to walk over to the grass 
field just south of the playing fields and between the pig barns on Pine 
Tree Rd. and the East Hill Rec. Way.  I was pleasantly surprised to see 
and hear 2 BOBOLINK, a MEADOWLARK carrying food to a nest, and a 
possible????? GRASSHOPPER SPARROW.  I'm not at all confident as to the 
latter, but my very inexpert ears thought they were hearing a buzz-like 
sound.  Also, I flushed a small unidentified sparrow while walking 
through the field.  You _better_ birders might want to check it out.  
The Bobolinks were in the eastern third of this tract, and the 
Meadowlark nest is on the western side close to the farm road.  The 
sparrow flew up from near the center of the field.

THERE IS URGENCY TO THESE SIGHTINGS!!!  I talked with Bill Huisinga, the 
manager of Farm Services, who told me they will be cutting the field 
perhaps by as early as this weekend (pray for rain!).  They sell the hay 
to other departments at Cornell, and the monies raised go toward the 
Farm Services' budget. They are required by the university to be 
_totally_ self-supporting.  They usually get two cuttings each year at a 
value of $3000-4000.  He did say that if he were paid that amount, he 
could delay the cutting until the end of July.

The field is approx. 10 acres and has a variety of grass, etc. species 
in it.  My first question is, considering the size, location, and plant 
makeup, would this be a good field to maintain for grassland species?  
If there is a consensus that it would be, is it possible that the bird 
club could (should?) make an emergency allocation to save the field for 
nesting for this year?

Longer-term, seeing as how the Plantations agreed to protect Hawthorn 
Woods from development,  just maybe they might be willing to take 
responsibility for preserving this adjacent field for nesting grassland 
species.  This sounds real nice, but I fully realize there are a variety 
of issues that would have to be resolved, not the least of which is the 
money required to maintain the field.  Also,  how would the issue of 
Farm Services losing this (albeit small) source of revenue be 
addressed.  Perhaps even more importantly, Cornell would have to forgo 
using this area for other purposes (a real biggie?!?!?).   This is no 
doubt only a smattering of the issues that probably would have to be 
dealt with.

Assuming this field would indeed be a good place to preserve for 
grassland species,  are there other sources of funding for this purpose??

In past years it was not uncommon to find Bobolinks and Meadowlarks in 
this field.  I always helplessly stood by and lamented when the field 
was cut before the birds had a chance to successfully nest.  Considering 
the plight of grassland species, isn't it perhaps time we should be 
doing something to help?  What do the rest of you think?



W. Larry Hymes
120 Vine Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
(H) 607-277-0759, w...@cornell.edu


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