Grasshopper Sparrows Return to County
Some of our members confirmed a great discovery this year; a colony of Grasshopper Sparrows near the Neversink Reservoir! Grasshopper Sparrows haven't been seen in Sullivan County since 2008 so confirmation of these breeding birds is great news.
The habitat below the dam is perfect for this species, the dense mix of several grass species provides cover and ample insect food. The nest is made of a cup of grass with overhanging stems and Grasshopper Sparrows will raise multiple broods in a good year.
The fields below the dam are property of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and there is restricted access. This is good news for the Grasshopper Sparrow colony as people cannot unwittingly trample the nests. The DEP will not mow the area until later in the summer and has agreed to work with the Sullivan Audubon Society to protect and encourage the growth of this colony.
To that end, we will be fabricating perches for the sparrows and installing them before the next breeding season. The perches will be placed strategically to fall within multiple territories. Last summer the male sparrows were seen singing and displaying from several objects in the fields that rose above the grasses so it is hoped that the perches will encourage more birds to nest here. The perches will then be removed before the DEP mows.