Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Grassland Birds:

There are many best management practices that landowners and producers can implement onto their landscapes that benefit grassland birds.

Keep in mind that these BMPs go well beyond conserving grassland birds! They create diverse and healthy habitats that benefit native beneficial insects, pollinators, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals while enriching soil health and improving water quality.

High-priority BMP’s for protecting nesting grassland birds in the spring:

  • Delayed haying: The first cutting of hay (or mowing/clipping fields) is delayed until July 1. 
  • Summer pasture stockpiling: Livestock are rotated out of fields that experience higher levels of use by grassland birds from April 15 to July 1.

If you are already implementing either or both of these practices on your landscape, we want to know about it! Please take a few minutes to fill out this form so that we can better track the amount of local acreage that is suitable for grassland bird nesting. VGBI offers a seasonal, time-limited financial incentives program for delayed haying and summer pasture stockpiling; learn more.

Additional BMPs that benefit grassland birds:

  • Raise the blade: Raise machinery cutting blades to 8 inches, or as high as possible, when cutting fields. This practice is best intended for landowners and producers clipping livestock pastures or bush-hogging fields to maintain grassland habitat.
  • Flushing bar: Adding a flushing bar (a horizontal bar with dangling chains) if forced to hay/mow/clip during the nesting season can reduce adult and juvenile grassland bird mortality.
  • Plant native warm season grasses: For forage, hay, or as a field or riparian buffer
  • Plant native wildflowers
  • Plant native shrubs and trees as hedgerows and windbreaks
  • Eliminate use of any pesticides (esp. insecticides and rodenticides) throughout the landscape
  • Install nest-boxes for a variety of cavity-nesting birds
  • Leave dead snags standing if they are not a safety hazard
  • Install native riparian buffers along wet drainages, vernal pools, pond and streams
  • Exclude livestock from all riparian areas
  • Manage invasive plant species 
  • Keep all cats indoors
  • Upgrade your outdoor lighting to be Dark Sky compliant 
  • Leave dead foliage to overwinter, providing cover and seeds during harsh winter months

We encourage landowners to amplify these practices by collaborating with neighbors to extend BMPs across property lines.