More than 50 bird species rely on grasslands here in Virginia, birds like bobwhite quail, Eastern meadowlark and bobolink. Sadly, many of our grassland birds, along with their songs, are in sharp decline as native grasslands in Virginia are lost. Without native grasslands, remaining grassland birds have begun to rely on hayfields and pastureland as their primary habitat.
The Alliance is partnering with Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL), a program of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, the Piedmont Environmental Council, American Farmland Trust and Quail Forever to bring new expertise and resources to Valley farmers to improve both the grazing and grassland bird habitat on their properties, a win-win.
“We want to help build strong farming communities through good land stewardship and wildlife conservation,” says Justin Proctor, coordinator of the Virginia Grassland Bird Initiative. “The Valley has extensive working grasslands where our research and programming will be an excellent fit. We hope to have a new staff person housed at the Alliance’s New Market office soon to help us expand the initiative.”
An Eastern Meadowlark in song. Photo courtesy of October Greenfield.
Here at the Alliance, we are eager to assist farmers in adopting new bird-friendly practices such as delayed spring haying and summer pasture stockpiling, and to see the results—improved soil health and signs of returning birds and their songs.
For more information or to get involved, contact Justin Proctor (ProctorCJ@si.edu or 607.229.6255).
Top illustration by Nick Garnhart.