Date: 10/24/19 3:42 am
From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Grassland creation to support appropriate species

In mulling the recent report about the decline in North America bird populations by 25% over the past fifty years, I've begun to think about 'mini-grasslands.' I am aware of two places in Bergen County where it seems to me that grassland birds who don't require huge territories might thrive, if the landowners of those properties would be willing to convert what are now closely manicured lawns to Negri-Nepote-type mixed wildflower, grasses, bushes, etc., and to then "field-mow" them every few years to ensure that natural succession by trees and larger bushes (such as has occurred at undermaintained Glenhurst Meadows in Somerset County) doesn't occur.

Is anyone aware of data available for the "minimum" size of a territory for such species (Field Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Dickcissel, Meadowlark, Horned Lark, Tree or Barn Swallow, RT Hummingbird, Bobolink) and what the edge of that grassland would have to look like to encourage breeding success by the appropriate species? Again, I am thinking of Negri-Nepote which has a line of trees and bushes on one edge and mowed private property on the other. Is anyone in this readership aware of an organization which 'knows' how to convert a lawn into a grassland: what to plant that is native to New Jersey, maintenance schedules, etc.?

It is probably a pipe dream to think that either of the two landowners (one a private organization, one a county government) would ever convert, but it is worth asking/thinking about if there's a remote possibility of success. In a way, both organizations would benefit by having to do far less mowing and maintenance, so perhaps the monetary inducement might prompt a thoughtful review. But it frosts me every time I look at these vast expanses of flat grass supporting Canada Geese to think that a much more diverse environment might be possible.

Thanks for your thoughts, birders!

Marc Chelemer

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