Larry (and others),

We have a 5-acre grassy field.  When we moved here 10 yrs ago, I asked someone 
at the lab what the minimum size might be to attract nesting grassland species. 
 The answer was about 50 acres.  I don't know if there is more recent 
information on the size, but perhaps this is a starting point for the 

I will say that we have never observed any grassland species in our field.  We 
mow it once a year to keep down woody species, usually early in July.  Perhaps 
grassland species prefer an unmown field with some of last year's brush still 

Bill McAneny,   T'Burg 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: W. Larry Hymes 
  Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2010 2:50 PM
  Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Grassland birds - East Hill Rec. Way/Pine Tree Rd.

  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 

  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,


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