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State of the Birds Report

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Rural Landscapes

Eastern Meadowlark by Gerrit

As family farms have disappeared in America, so too have many species of birds that were good neighbors to generations of American farmers.

In the East and Midwest, Eastern Meadowlark and Grasshopper Sparrow populations have declined as industrial farming became widespread. According to the USDA, dairy farming has shifted toward larger operations and away from pasturing practices, which has reduced habitat for these species. In the West and Southwest, as ranchers fight to maintain their way of life, declining birds such as Lark Bunting and Loggerhead Shrike are likewise attempting to hold on to their homes.

Farm Bill and working lands conservation programs have provided habitat for farm and ranch birds, and now organic agriculture is providing a new boost to rural habitat. A one-day bird survey on an organic dairy farm in Minnesota found almost 50 confirmed or possible breeding species.


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