Bird-Friendly Beef

Exploring Impacts of Regenerative Grazing Practices on Grassland Birds

Through our grassland biodiversity surveys, VWL has been exploring how the management of our region’s grasslands influence bird communities since 2011. While this research has provided important insights into relationships between local conservation practices and grassland bird abundance, we have not had opportunities to explore how specific practices, such as grazing or haying, influence reproductive success. However, knowing this information is important for identifying factors that either impede or promote population growth.

In collaboration with American Farmland Trust’s Sustainable Grazing Project, VWL researchers are working with a small group of cattle producers in 2020 to initiate a new study that will provide insights into how regenerative grazing practices influence nesting success of grassland birds, like Eastern Meadowlarks and Grasshopper Sparrows. In this pilot experiment, scientists will measure and compare the nesting success of birds occupying fields that are actively grazed, hayed and stockpiled (set aside for winter grazing).

Check back here for more details as the field season unfolds!

Interested in our nesting ecology research? Click here for information on our research with Smithsonian’s Movement of Life Initiative using drone technology to assist with nest searching.

Primary Investigator:
Amy Johnson – Virginia Working Landscapes


Jacob Gilley – American Farmland Trust

Project Timeline & Status:
Field work began Spring 2020 – Ongoing

This project is supported by The Band Foundation