|In 2007, Savannah Sparrows were still common in our area|
|The Eastern Meadowlark seems to be found only in the northern part of our County|
|The Upland Sandpiper is one of the rarest grassland birds|
Corn is definitely king in our region. These days just about every field is planted with corn, and those that aren’t are planted with another row crop –soybeans. The problem with these crops is that they make terrible bird habitat. In fact none of the grassland birds that I mentioned above can breed in these fields.
|The Bobolink still hangs on at our nature preserve|
|The Savannah Sparrow collects food for its young|
The Savannah Sparrow resembles the much more common Song Sparrow, but the Savannah Sparrow’s striped plumage is more sharply defined. Unlike the Song Sparrow, the Savannah usually shows some yellow at the base of its bill and over its eye. The song of the Savannah Sparrow starts with a few chip notes and is followed by 2 longer buzzy notes that have a sizzling quality to them. In the old days (only 5 years ago), the breeding grounds of this sparrow commonly sounded like they were sizzling in the sun. At Spring Farm, the Savannah Sparrow nested around our upper horse pastures and in several of the nature preserve’s old fields. Nests of the Savannah are placed on or near the ground, which makes them vulnerable to predators and obviously, to farm equipment.
|The Grasshopper Sparrow singing in our field back in 2000|
|Wilson's Snipe is another species that appreciates grasslands|
About the only other truly grassland species that we’ve ever had nesting at the nature preserve was the Grasshopper Sparrow. A small colony of this small, short tailed species last nested in our largest field back in 2000. Their song is similar to the Savannah Sparrow, but consists of a few chip notes followed by sizzling buzz. As the big field’s grasses were overtaken with goldenrod, asters and other rigorous perennials, the Grasshopper Sparrow was displaced.