Working Lands: A New York Farm Owner Manages Fields For Grassland Birds

Working Lands: A New York Farm Owner Manages Fields For Grassland Birds

Gail W. Miller's 174-year-old farm is worth the upkeep to protect grassland birds such as bobolinks.  

By Mary Thill/Photography by Ben Stechschulte
Published: May-June 2012

Outlook: With natural habitats becoming scarcer, management of hayfield nesting sites will be critical to the bobolink's future.--Kenn Kaufman

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Mary Thill

 Mary Thill writes the Natural Life blog for

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


bobolinks & other field birds

It is so heartening that you are maintaining a habitat for such birds. i worry that, around my small property in NE NY, which used to be a part of a farm, there is no longer room for bobolinks and also phoebes, which I understand also nest in fields...Though we saw no signs of field birds when we moved here 12 years ago, we have taken to mowing a small field behind our old farmhouse because of the epidemic of ticks. my husband not only a had a long-term battle with Lyme disease but also a life-threatening bout with other tick-borne illnesses last summer....I imagine that the more birds who thrive around us, the fewer bugs, but what I witness now is not the avian experience of my long-ago childhood. Where bats fluttered at sunset, there is not a single one now, What is happening to the bobolinks and phoebes and bats and bees and other species are right in front of our eyes now. We desperately need ways to restore more healthy environments such as yours.

inspiring endeavor

What a terrific article about your joint endeavor. Kudos to Gail and Audubon along with best wishes.


Lovely article. Can one do this on already preserved 'farmland'? We've preserved ~60 acres of the farm in NJ, and sold the development rights away so that it will always be farmland. We cut hay on about 20 acres. Can we do the remaining 40? Does NJ support this effort?

Make Birds While the Hay Grows

Wonderful article. Informative and beautiful writing. I could picture the fields with birds living in them. So much habitat is vanishing, it is truly a world-wide crisis for birds and animals of all types. I wish this program great success.

What a fabuolus program! I

What a fabuolus program! I applaud all involved.

Aubudon/DEC program in NYState to manage farm fields for birds

Hi - We own 95 acres in upstate NY: Ellenburg Depot and have bobolinks nesting in our fields. About 45 acres are hayed. We would like to protect the birds and get information about this program and an application.
Thank you, Kay & Bob Barthelmes

Making Hay and your offer

We would love to contact you, or you can contact the Audubon New York state office and ask for Mike B.

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