Applications from interested farmers have been rolling in as Bobolinks have been starting to make their way northward from South America. What better way to welcome them back than protecting habitat where they can safely raise their young? People who support The Bobolink Project do just that.
The Bobolink Project is an innovative model that was designed to connect conservation-minded donors with farmers who want to protect birds on their fields, but need a little financial help to do so.
You can save Bobolinks
The number of acres The Bobolink Project protects is directly tied to how much we can raise in donations. You can support this work and protect privately-owned habitat for grassland birds by donating to the project and spreading the word to all of your networks. This project simply wouldn’t exist without people, like you, who care deeply for birds.
The Bobolink Project saves hundreds of Bobolinks each year. Let’s make 2021 just as successful!
Interested farmers apply to The Bobolink Project with a dollar bid/acre that is low enough to be competitive but also sufficient to provide them with some financial help to offset the loss of income from the hay that would otherwise be cut. Grassland sizes must be a minimum of 20 acres to be considered. At the same time we accept donations from Bobolink-loving donors and pool them until we’re ready to make decisions in mid-April.
In order to select which farms will be included we do a uniform reverse price auction, which is described on our website in more detail. The number of acres that we can protect is determined by how much we can raise each year.
Once we determine which farms will be selected, we draw up legal contracts with those farmers and wait for the Bobolinks to arrive, start building nests, and raise their families.
The bird surveys of the fields protected by The Bobolink Project are just about done, and the Bobolinks are currently busy tending to their young. Our partners in Vermont, where the majority of the Bobolink Project fields are, report that there are a lot of fledglings on the fields and that overall numbers are looking good this year (more on this in September).
This year, thanks to our awesome donors, The Bobolink Project was able to protect 995 acres of grassland habitat in Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York—the most we’ve ever protected in a single year! The 22 landowners who were accepted into the program will receive financial compensation (at the rate of $50/acre) in August for delaying mowing on their fields and therefore allowing these birds to successfully raise their young. Our Bobolink Project landowners care about grassland birds, but need a little financial help to do so. Hay cut early in the season is more valuable than that cut later in the summer and The Bobolink Project compensation helps make up the difference.
Protecting More Than Bobolinks
The program is called “The Bobolink Project” because Bobolinks are more widespread and easier to see than other birds that nest in grasslands. Many other species also benefit from the protection of grassland habitat through the program. Song Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, and others have been spotted nesting on the fields. Excitingly, a Sedge Wren was found singing on one of the Bobolink Project fields this summer. Sedge Wrens are endangered in New England and a rare sight.
Help Us Permanently Protect Grassland Birds At Patten Hill
In addition to running The Bobolink Project, Mass Audubon also permanently protects natural land for wildlife and people. Mass Audubon has the opportunity to protect 67 acres at Patten Hill, which is adjacent to Mass Audubon’s High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary in Shelburne Falls, MA. Of those 67 acres, 40 acres are grassland habitat with nesting Bobolinks. Protecting the property will also result in more than 1,000 acres of connected protected natural land.
The Bobolinks are arriving in New England and we’re finalizing the contracts with our participating Bobolink Project farmers. Thanks to the generosity of our Bobolink Project donors, we can protect over 630 acres of farmland this year! In return for some compensation, the Bobolink Project farmers will delay mowing on their hay fields until the young grassland birds have had time to fledge.
As in past years, we had more acres submitted into the project than we could cover with the available pool of donations. This year, we received 40 applications from farmers in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York—but our donation pool, as of April 1st (our deadline for donations), could cover only 17 of the farmers’ fields. This may sound disappointing, but we are able to cover 20% more acres this year at a lower per acre price of $60 (vs. $75 last year).
We are glad that the project is continuing to grow and look forward to welcoming grassland birds to fields enrolled in the program this summer and sharing our results with you. Keep up to date with The Bobolink Project by signing up to the mail-list or follow us on Facebook.
The Bobolink Project donations are accepted all year. The 2018 donation pool is already growing: since April 1st we have received over $8,000 in donations that will be saved for next year. Donate now to help us protect more acres and birds next year.
We are pleased to announce that we have finished updating our website for the coming 2017 Bobolink Project season. Check out the new information at www.bobolinkproject.com. The farmer applications are live and donations are very welcome.
We will be accepting farmer applications until March 20.
IMPORTANT: We have changed some of the criteria for eligible farms and clarified a few other things so we highly recommend that you thoroughly read through the For Farmers page.
We also encourage donors to donate before April 1 when we will begin selecting farms for the program. The reason why only donations before April 1, 2017 will be applied to the 2017 season is because the number of farms and which farms we accept into the program depend wholly on how many donations we have pooled up to that deciding date when we start creating the contracts. Any donations that come in after April 1 will be saved for the following 2018 season.