Latin: Dolichonyx oryzivorus
We can make a difference for birds and pollinators on farms.
Pollinator sampling: a mason jar contains bees and flowers collected from a Vermont dairy farm. Photo: Gwendolyn Causer/Audubon Vermont
Birds and bees bring us together. They are excellent biological indicators of our success. As we help the birds and the bees, we will also help create natural climate solutions, healthy soil, and clean water.
In the agricultural landscape, birds and pollinators use field margins, forest patches, grasslands, hedgerows, ditches, and riparian areas for foraging, breeding, and finding shelter. Restoring, creating, and maintaining native plant habitats preserves the biodiversity of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.
Birds and pollinators need our help. Birds that are flying insect-eaters, such as Tree Swallows, Common Nighthawks, and Eastern Whip-poor-wills, are experiencing steep population declines. Grassland birds that utilize Vermont farmlands, such as Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks, are declining range-wide. At the same time, important native pollinators like bumblebees are threatened and declining - several pollinators have already disappeared from Vermont.
The presence of habitats that incorporate a mix of native tree, shrub and perennial species will increase the abundance and diversity of pollinator and bird species that then provide important natural services on farms, such as crop pollination and pest control.
How to Get There
Interest in the creation and improvement of on-farm habitat for birds and pollinators has grown within the farm and conservation communities. Together with farmers and The University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for the Environment we are developing on-farm bird and pollinator practices and documenting the ecological and economic benefits of these practices on demonstration farms.
We aim not only to help birds, but also to support the long-term productivity of the land and financial sustainability of the farm operations. By listening to and partnering with a diversity of farmers who steward their land, we will tap into innovative solutions for how to improve our work together.
We intentionally approach our Bird and Bee Friendly Farming work through an equity, inclusion, and belonging lens.
Abenaki people have lived continuously in Vermont for more than 10,000 years. The land we now know as Vermont as served as a site of sustenance, community, meeting, and exchange among Indigenous peoples since time immemorial. We respect their connection to this region and remember the hardships they’ve endured - both past and present.
Indigenous farmers’ ancestral agricultural heritage and current practices will help inform our Bird and Bee Friendly Farming project work. We seek to create meaningful and sustainable partnerships with Abenaki community members in this work that honors the land and its original stewards.
Access to land ownership in Vermont has a long, racist history of inequity. According to the American Farmland Trust, there are currently only eight farms that are owned by Black people in Vermont, many of which are deeply rooted in environmental justice work, community collaboration, and a rich connection to nature. These approaches and practices offer opportunities for partnership and inspiration as we move forward with our Bird and Bee Friendly Farming work and seek to learn from each other.
We support proposed policies to address and dismantle racial inequities to land ownership, as well as a process which fully includes and centers BIPOC communities in the process used to develop those policies.
What You Can Do
If you are farming and you’re interested in more doing for the birds and the bees:
Explore our online Bird and Bee Friendly Farming resources:
Attend an online workshop. Check our calendar of events.
Visit a farm demonstration site. (More information coming soon!)
Let us know what you’re doing! We want to know what’s working for the birds and bees where you farm. Drop us an email at email@example.com to start a conversation.
If you’d like to improve habitat for birds and the bees at home or in your community:
Creating resilient, bird and bee friendly habitat.
Take a peek at some of the on-farm habitat work Audubon Vermont, Gund, and the Intervale Center have been doing.
A study finds that weaving wild patches into farmland can attract more beneficial species, reducing crop damage and risks to food safety.