Grassland habitat, such as that found at the Washington County Grasslands, are home to significant populations of some of the highest priority birds for conservation in the Atlantic Flyway.
These birds depend on hayfields, pastures, and other agricultural lands. More than two-thirds of New York’s farmland has been lost during the past century and Breeding Bird Survey data shows a 90% decrease in grassland birds since 1966.
Grasslands are home to many birds during the spring and summer breeding season. They also provide habitat through the winter for raptors such as the state-listed short-eared owl (endangered) and northern harrier (threatened).
To monitor these birds, biologists and birders are conduct coordinated surveys as part of DEC’s statewide Wintering Raptor Project.
Photo: short-eared owl and northern harrier by USFWS/Brian E. Kushner.