Want to be outstanding in your field? If so, than NH Audubon has a job for you!
Because of long-term declines, NH Fish and Game listed Eastern Meadowlark as state threatened in 2017. Meadowlarks were once common in open agricultural landscapes across much of the state, and even occurred regularly into northern Coos County as recently as 25 years ago. Now they are increasingly restricted to scattered sites in the Connecticut and Merrimack Valleys, and near the seacoast, with only a handful of recent records north of the White Mountains. Even in the south, numbers continue to decline, and some formerly-reliable sites - like the Concord airport - no longer appear to support meadowlarks.
Thus, in order to get a better idea of where meadowlarks continue to occur in the state, NH Audubon is undertaking a "meadowlark blitz" this summer - with the option of continuing into 2022 if needed. We are doing this as part of a two-state effort with partners at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the University of Vermont. Even though meadowlarks are more common in Vermont (especially in the Champlain Valley), similar declines are being seen there as well.
To amass this needed current data, we are hoping to recruit some enthusiastic volunteers willing to spend some time between May and July looking for meadowlarks. This can involve visiting pre-determined sites (I have a list!), and/or simply searching areas of suitable habitat. A key requirement is that you visit each site three times (roughly monthly) and spent the same amount of time at each visit. Depending on the size of the site and its distance from your home, each survey should be easily accomplished in a few hours, if not significantly less. More detailed instructions will be provided to volunteers who sign up.
We'll also be looking for Vesper Sparrows, which have declined similarly (if not more so) although they are not currently considered threatened or endangered. Sometimes Vesper Sparrows occur in the same areas as meadowlarks, but are more likely in habitats with sparser grasses and scattered shrubs. Because of this, there are additional Vesper Sparrow sites in areas with less historical meadowlark activity (e.g., the Ossipee Pine Barrens).
Surveys will begin in May and continue through July. If interested please reply to me at <phunt...>, and be sure to let me know where you live. I hope to start assigning people to sites by the end of the month.
Hope some of you can join me in this effort!
Pamela D. Hunt, Ph.D.
Avian Conservation Biologist, NH Audubon