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North Salem Daily Voice serves North Salem, NY

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Plea to North Salem: If You Own a Field, Don’t Mow

If you walk through the fields on Baxter Road, Keeler Lane or Vail Lane, you’ll probably hear a bubbling delirium of ecstatic music . The beautiful bobolink – almost vanished from North Salem due to development – is nesting in the grass again. The birds are back thanks, in large part, to the North Salem Open Land Foundation (NSOLF) and some other lando0wners, who have pledged to put off mowing until mid-July.

Bobolinks are among the bird world’s longest-distance fliers. They’ve just migrated 8,000 miles north fro their wintering grounds in Argentina. What they need to raise families successfully are fields of 25 acres or larger.

If you own such a field and don’t need the hay, Bedford Audubon (914-232-1999) wants to enlist you in its bobolink-conservation project. Early mowing destroys the birds’ habitat. Late mowing not only welcomes them, if offers local birdwatchers a splendid show.

Male bobolinks arrive in late April and immediately set up their territories in large fields and pastures. You can see them hovering over the piece of land they claim, attracting females and driving other males out.

Females arrive about a week later. A racy mating season begins, with males often copulating with several females and females doing the same with different males. This is nature’s way of ensuring transmission of the strongest gene pool to the next generation. From May to early July, eggs hatch and the young learn to fly. By putting off mowing, landowners can help ensure the survival of this glorious species.

When the bobolink project started in 2009, Bedford Audubon could find only 25 male birds in all of North Salem. By protecting the nesting sites of even that small number, more than 70 chicks hatched. This year, more than 80 males are calling in three fields alone.

For spring birding and bobolinking, join NSOLF and the Westchester Land Trust on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a hike on the Keeler Lane preserve. You’ll be certain to see these wonderful birds and know why so many people want to ensure that they stay a summer fixture of the North Salem landscape.

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