Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
A bumpy, tree-covered mountain in the background with a fresh cut field and sunflowers in the foreground.
Canoe Meadows, Pittsfield

Grassland Enhancement Project at Canoe Meadows

Throughout North America, grassland nesting birds are disappearing at an alarming rate. While conversion of open land to development and succession of fields to forest are the most visible contributors to the loss of grassland habitat, a less obvious factor is the loss of grasslands of ample size to accommodate the most imperiled species.

Most grassland-nesting birds are area sensitive, meaning they will not nest in grasslands below a certain size. Grassland birds also tend to avoid nesting near field edges where predators lurk, so long narrow fields are less attractive than large square fields.

Grassland Enhancement Comes to Canoe Meadows

In October 2016, Mass Audubon implemented a grassland enhancement project at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Pittsfield to help grassland birds. The main focus of the project was the removal of a hedgerow that separated the sanctuary’s large northern field into two smaller sections.

With the trees and invasive shrubs cleared, the total area of continuous grassland at the site is approximately 60 acres, very appealing for grassland birds.

Stewarding Canoe Meadow’s Grasslands Today

Today, Mass Audubon is continuing to improve this project site. The shrubs that have grown up after the original 2016 project will be removed along with other invasive plant species. Tree and shrub stumps will be removed and the narrow strip, once a hedgerow, will become a part of the grassland.

Mass Audubon’s Grassland Bird Program

To protect the grassland habitats of Massachusetts, and the wildlife that depend on them, Mass Audubon’s Grassland Bird Program works with our communities to steward grasslands.

Owners and managers of meadows, hayfields, and pastureland can make a real difference in protecting these species by implementing bird-friendly management practices. Our task is to find creative ways to make safe havens on private and public lands for these birds to raise their young.

To help landowners and managers understand this issue and develop sustainable management practices, Mass Audubon has developed several strategies.

Learn more