Saving Bobolinks

Saving Bobolinks

Maine’s grassland birds are under threat

Join Ag Allies program staff Laura Lecker and Maeve McGowan for a presentation about Maine’s grassland birds, the threats they face, and how farmers, landowners, and land trusts can help protect them. Laura and Maeve touch on the life history of Bobolinks and Savannah sparrows, population trends, and the dynamic relationship between grassland bird conservation and agriculture.

This program is for property owners who would like to learn more about hayfield management, or anyone interested in Maine’s grassland birds.

Recorded on October 20, 2021 in Damariscotta, Maine.

About the presenters

Maeve McGowan is Land and Development Coordinator for the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, and has been studying grassland birds for the past three years. In 2018, she served as a research assistant on Dr. Noah Perlut’s Bobolink Odyssey project, monitoring breeding behavior of Bobolinks and Savannah sparrows in Shelburne, Vermont. Since then, she has been analyzing the impact of climate change on grassland birds, dairy farmers, and the complex dynamic between them. Her paper “Agriculture is adapting to phenological shifts caused by climate change, but grassland songbirds are not” was recently published by the journal of Ecology and Evolution. Serving as project staff for Ag Allies has allowed Maeve to combine her passions of protecting grassland birds and supporting local farmers while tapping into her background of land conservation.

Laura Lecker is a long-time volunteer at Avian Haven wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom. For the past 4 years, she has served as their education and outreach coordinator. In 2011, she witnessed the devastating effects of an early mowing on the bobolink nestlings on the property she and her husband now own. This inspired her to start the Ag Allies grassland bird program in 2016. Since then, she has managed the program and spent time field training at Cornell and with Dr. Noah Perlut on his grassland bird study in Vermont. Laura is Technical Director at Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District and previously worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She received a B.S. in Soil Science from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. in Ecology from Penn State University.

Featured photo: Male Bobolink by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren