Birding to Support Sustainable Farming

Warblers welcome! Farmers are using birds to assess the ecological impact of their farms. Photo: William H. Majoros via Wikimedia Commons

A bobolink in the barley could be the best measure yet of biodiversity on the farm.

According to researchers at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, birds are an excellent indicator of a farm’s ecological health and sustainability, making birding an invaluable tool to the eco-minded farmer.

Birds, explains John Quinn on KQED, “are sensitive to change in farm practices, found broadly in the environment, and are easy to detect by sight and sound.” Once a farmer has learned to recognize their call and appearance, she or he can monitor their presence regularly on the farm. 

The University of Nebraska Lincoln group is helping farmers identify local birds and providing both an online database and CD with bird calls. From rose-breasted grosbeak to red-tailed hawk, they’ve posted more than one hundred sound bites that birders and farmers alike can use. 

The connection has also inspired farmers to reach out to the birding community, with “Birding on the Farm” workshops, bringing together experts and novices to appreciate the abundance of birdlife in an agricultural setting.

You can learn more about sustainable agriculture on the Perch: Read on to learn about the oxen comeback, vertical farming, and unconventional solutions

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