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 discussion.
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 standing. Bill McAneny, T'Burg ----- Original Message ----- From: W. Larry Hymes To: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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? Larry -- ================================ W. Larry Hymes 120 Vine Street, Ithaca, NY 14850 (H) 607-277-0759, w...@cornell.edu ================================ -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html 3) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --