Shrubland Bird Enhancement at Last Resort Farm

Last Resort Farm, situated near the Hogback Mountains in Monkton, VT, is a small, family-owned and operated organic vegetable and berry farm. In the farm's nearly 300 acres, there is a diverse array of habitats, including riparian areas, grasslands, forest, and shrublands. The shrublands were of particular interest to Audubon Vermont, as they support priority species such as Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers. 

A springtime view of trees, shrubs, and ferns
Shrubland Habitat at Last Resort Farm Photo: Margaret Fowle/Audubon Vermont

A number of years ago, I walked the shrublands with Sam Burr and his son Silas Doyle-Burr to discuss ways they could enhance the shrubby habitats on their farm. One area to the north of a large hayfield and near a riparian area that has been permanently protected with an easement held by the Vermont Land Trust, an over 10-acre field was becoming invaded by non-native shrubs such as honeysuckle and buckthorn, and was being encroached by white pine and ash. Sam and Silas agreed to allow me to survey the area in the spring, and I was excited to find some rare and declining species, including Blue-winged Warbler and Eastern Towhee.  This ephemeral habitat was supporting the species at the time, but it was clear it wasn't going to continue to support them long-term without some kind management.

Silas and I worked with Andrea Shortsleeve at the Vermont Fish & Wildife Department to find funding that would support cutting trees, managing invasives, and brush hogging patches of dogwoods and other native shrubs that were becoming too tall and unsuitable for nesting shrubland birds. Using Habitat Stamp funds, Last Resort was able to complete the recommended management actions and open up the area enough to be able to continue to brush hog openings and maintain the area for our priority birds. The final phase of the management was completed in early 2023.

view of trees lying down after being cut
Phase 1 of habitat management: dropping large trees and pines. These were left on the ground to create habitat for birds and other wildlife. Photo: Margaret Fowle/Audubon Vermont
three people looking at shrubs on a sunny day in winter
Assessing the final management activities at Last Resort Farm. Photo: Margaret Fowle/Audubon Vermont

 I look forward to returning this spring to survey the area and document species seen in the newly managed habitat.  

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