Friday, May 25, 2007

2007 Grassland Breeding Bird Surveys

It's that time of year again. As a volunteer for NJ Audubon's Citizen Science program, I am conducting surveys of grassland breeding birds. I have the same 9 scattered locations as last year plus 3 new sites on a private farm. The private sites are part of NJ's Landowner Incentive Program. "The Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) is one partnership that can provide private landowners interested in conserving threatened and endangered species on their property with financial and technical assistance. It is the goal of LIP to work with private landowners to protect important habitats so our children and great grandchildren can witness our great conservation efforts." (NJ F&W)

I did my first survey very early this morning. My route doesn't seem to be as productive this year. Last year I had Grasshopper Sparrows at 3 sites and Meadowlarks at 2 sites. I did not record either species today. In 12 locations the only grassland birds I had were 3 Bobolinks across 2 locations. The most productive site from last year was mowed not more than 2-3 days ago and was piled high with hay bales and the only birds I found there were Robins and RW Blackbirds. Very disappointing! Another site that had Grasshopper Sparrows last year was mysteriously devoid of them. I'll be doing a follow-up survey in a few weeks and hopefully they will be there. Perhaps they were just napping today.

On the bright side, all of the locations I surveyed last year still exist today and don't have $1 million+ homes on them.

I'm leading a field trip at Sandy Hook tomorrow so I'll report back later this weekend. Enjoy the holiday. It's going to be beautiful here in NJ!


LauraHinNJ said...

Can you mention the locations you survey?

Lakehurst is the only local spot I know of for grassland birds, but I haven't been there in years!

Patrick Belardo said...


The places I survey are random grassy fields in southern Somerset county. The best place on my route (that isn't mowed over) is on Grandview Avenue at the entrance to the J&J Consumer Products facility in Skillman (right near rt. 206). This site has Bobolinks and should have Grasshopper Sparrows. There was a Meadowlark there last year too. All of the other places were basically bird-less.

Lakehurst is still the single best place because you get all of the species mentioned above. Also, there are no other confirmed breeding Upland Sandpipers in NJ. Also, it's good for Horned Lark which breed in only a few places. It's worth a trip if you can get there with NJAS.