Working Lands

Grassland Bird Conservation Program

Grassland Bird Conservation Program

Grassland Bird Focus Areas

New York contains diverse habitats (and associated species assemblages) including grasslands, wetlands, and forests. There are many regions of New York where few or no grasslands exist. In these areas grassland conservation would be imprudent, and may be detrimental to other populations of significant conservation concern by fragmenting critical habitat. However, there are many other regions of New York where grassland conservation would be much more practical, and where important populations of grassland birds currently breed. In several of these areas, grassland habitats can not only coexist with other habitat types, but are ideal neighbors in a balanced landscape. For example, wetland associated grasslands are ideal nesting habitat for several waterfowl species. In addition, creating landscapes that contain relatively large amounts of grassland habitat would support conservation efforts by increasing grassland bird species richness throughout these regions.

To focus this conservation effort on regions of the state that have the highest likelihood of sustaining grassland bird populations on a long-term basis and where conservation efforts are most likely to be effective, we used data from the second New York Breeding Bird Atlas to identify regions supporting core populations of grassland birds.

These initial focus areas include only 21.23% of the total number of BBA blocks in NY, but “capture” an average of over 57% of the blocks in which grassland birds were reported and more than 65% of the blocks for all but the most ubiquitous species (Bobolink, Savannah Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark).

While the focus areas are officially identified as Focus Areas 1 through 8, common names for the geographic regions of New York in which they are found are listed below:

  • Focus Area 1 is found in “Western New York”
  • Focus Area 2 is found in the “Southern Tier”
  • Focus Area 3 is found in the “Finger Lakes Region”
  • Focus Area 4 includes portions of both the “Central Leatherstocking region” and the “Southern Adirondacks”
  • Focus Area 5 is found in the “St. Lawrence River Valley”
  • Focus Area 6 includes the “Ft. Edward Grasslands IBA”
  • Focus Area 7 includes the “Shawangunk Grasslands”
  • Focus Area 8 includes what was historically much of the “Hempstead Plains” on “Long Island

To see maps of the Focus Areas, and to learn how this concept is being used to direct conservation activities that target grassland breeding birds, please review the Conservation Plan for Grassland Birds in New York (4.7 MB PDF).