Wintering flocks of 40-50 Short-eared owls were once a common sight in rural areas across New York State. Now, less than 100 of these amazing owls remain. Short-eared owls have been extirpated (made locally extinct) in four of the eight Northeast states where they historically nested. They are listed as endangered in New York (and the other states where small populations remain).
Grassland birds depend on large, open expanses of treeless habitat to successfully breed, forage and raise their young. Most grassland bird species nest on the ground. They need undisturbed areas to provide food, nesting habitat and protection from predators. Some of these species, like our iconic Short-eared owls, require areas of 1,000 acres or more.
New York State lists eleven grassland bird “species of greatest conservation.” Many of these species, pictured below, are in danger of disappearing from New York’s grasslands unless we act now to conserve critical habitat in the areas most important to their recovery. Click on the photos below to learn more about each species…
The Washington County Grasslands support 10 of 11 of New York’s most imperiled grassland bird species and is critical to the survival of Short-eared Owls in New York State!