Shrubland Birds: How We Work

Helping protect priority shrubland birds.

Shrubland bird banding. Photo: Charley Wilkinson/Audubon Vermont

Audubon Vermont's Champlain Valley Bird Initiative (CVBI) enhances habitat for priority bird species in the Champlain Valley. As part of National Audubon's Atlantic Flyway Initiative, the CVBI works to protect priority bird species in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.

The Champlain Valley is part of an international, multi-state Bird Conservation Region which extends from the lower Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence River Valley and west to the Lake Champlain Basin. It contains some of the most important grassland, shrubland and wetland bird habitat in the East. Since much of this important habitat is privately owned, working with private landowners is critical to large-scale conservation efforts. In partnership with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Audubon engages landowners in managing their land to protect priority bird species in the region.

Vermont's Champlain Valley is a mosaic of fields, clay-plain forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers that host a diversity of breeding birds. These bird species are attracted to the valley because of its regionally unique habitats, including open farmlands, shrub patches, large emergent marshes and the Lake itself.  
Breeding bird surveys have shown that the early successional grasslands and shrublands of the Champlain Valley are a globally important resource for birds throughout the hemisphere.  Many relatively common birds in Vermont are declining throughout their range, however. 

Top threats to birds in the Champlain Valley:

  • Declining habitat due to abandoned farms and development
  • Changes in agricultural practices, especially the timing and frequency of haying grasslands
  • Invasive species such as wild parsnip, buckthorn, honeysuckle, and reed canary grass

Rather than waiting for species such as the Eastern Towhee or Bobolink to become vulnerable and end up on a threatened or endangered species list, it is important to take action now to conserve birds in the core of their range. The advantage to this approach is that low-cost management activities, education, and monitoring can help maintain or increase the populations of these birds. Whether it is Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks in the Valley's grasslands, Golden-winged Warblers and Eastern Towhees in its shrublands, or Wood Ducks and American Bitterns in its wetlands, CVBI works to protect and enhance habitats that sustain these priority bird species.

What we do

We work directly with landowners, foresters, and other partners to support early successional habitat management that benefits a suite of priority birds in the Champlain Valley and along the Atlantic Flyway. 

We provide:

  • Technical assistance for landowners
  • Workshops and trainings
  • Demonstration habitat management sites

CVBI is funded in part through grants from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the South Lake Champlain Fund, and other private foundations.  For more information on the CVBI, please contact Mark LaBarr at or Margaret Fowle at or (802) 434-3068.

Learn more about the Champlain Valley Bird Initiative

The Bobolink Project
Working Lands

The Bobolink Project

Linking farmers and birders together to support bird-friendly agricultural practices

Read more

Champlain Valley Bird Initiative Demonstration Sites


How you can help, right now