Segments in this Video

Northeast Connecticut Kestrel Project (03:10)


Tom Sayers installs bird boxes in Tolland, Connecticut, to provide nesting habitats for the declining kestrel population. Graduate student Jamie Sydoriak helps him band individuals and collect data.

Declining Grassland Birds (02:12)

Sydoriak, Rosalind Renfrew, and Pam Hunt monitor bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks in Enfield, New Hampshire. Data shows decreasing numbers since 1968; loss of breeding habitat is a major factor. View images of reforested abandoned farm land.

Manmade Habitat (03:07)

Sydoriak collaborates with Richard Dyment of Lebanon Municipal Airport to protect nesting grassland birds. At the Pease Airport, John Kanter monitors upland sandpiper nests. Both airports have altered mowing practices to accommodate birds.

Compromising for Conservation (03:44)

Sydoriak tries to convince farmer Wally Bragg to delay cutting his hay to allow birds to finish nesting. Waiting has allowed invasive grass species to move into his field and cost him a crop.

Bobolink Research (03:50)

Renfrew works with Canadian colleagues to tag bobolinks with geolocators. Their rate of decline is accelerating due to habitat loss from changing farm practices. They have been designated as threatened in Ontario.

Threatened Species Status (03:30)

Ontario farmer Pete Curtis discusses changing farming practices that are endangering bobolinks. Renfrew is on a provincial task force developing a recovery strategy; they hope to slow the rate of decline.

Addressing Development Threats (04:59)

Ontario Home Builder's Association CEO Joe Vaccaro discusses a plan to replace bobolink and eastern meadowlark habitat lost to development. Changing haying practices without hurting farmers economically will be more challenging. Ron Reid says grassland species’ survival is linked to grass-fed beef.

Northern Great Plains (03:14)

In Montana, World Wildlife Fund conservation biologist Kevin Ellison explains that temperate grasslands are threatened by large scale farming, in terms of both quantity and biodiversity.

Grazing Animals and Grassland Bird Habitat (08:22)

Montana rancher and bird enthusiast Dale Veseth adopted rotational grazing to improve pasture health and boost biodiversity. Bird populations are thriving in a protected bison area at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation due to habitat diversity. Tribes are hoping to increase herd size.

Chihuahua Bird Habitat (02:40)

Many northern grassland species winter in Mexico. Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory biologists Arvind Panjabi, Greg Levandoski and Erin Strasser have recorded a 6% habitat loss in five years; percentage of annual population survival depends on precipitation patterns.

Habitat Conservation Enforcement Issues (04:08)

Biosphere reserves are set aside for conservation in Mexico, but large scale farmers ignore boundaries. Most migratory grassland bird species have lost over 60% of their population since the 1960s. Panjabi believes balancing agriculture and ecology is possible.

Conservation Education (05:28)

Biologists work with local schools to teach students about their ecosystem. Rancho Carrestas holds workshops on rotational grazing methods. Manager Servando Diaz says improving grassland bird habitat is also economically beneficial.

Citizen Conservation Efforts (03:29)

Most states lack financial resources to protect non-game species. Sayers encourages other people to become involved in saving grassland birds.

Future of Grassland Birds (01:11)

Biologists try to remain optimistic about slowing population decline rates from habitat loss.

Credits: Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration—Plight of the Grassland Birds (00:60)

Credits: Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration—Plight of the Grassland Birds

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Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration—Plight of the Grassland Birds

Part of the Series : Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration
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Journey to the North American fields and meadows that are home to grassland birds. Host Willem Lange talks to those in the United States, Canada, and Mexico who are concerned about the birds' decline, and are trying to reverse this trend.

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL129912

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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Plight of the Grassland Birds

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