As farms and cities in the central United States flourished, prairie grasses disappeared. Tallgrass prairie is now among our most endangered habitats—only about 4 percent remains. Prairie birds have shown the most sustained population declines of any bird group in North America. Audubon is partnering with ranchers who own remaining grasslands to develop market-based management that benefits prairie birds while sustaining the livelihoods of the ranchers. A pilot effort starting in Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri focused on such species as the Henslow’s Sparrow, Greater Prairie-Chicken, and Upland Sandpiper.
Work to advance grassland-bird-friendly beef production in the Great Plains is modeled on early efforts in the Southern Cone Grasslands of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. For example, Audubon has developed science-based bird-friendly grazing protocols with insight from outside experts and private landowners. These protocols are aimed at changing current management practices on private grasslands to holistic management practices that promote the conservation of grassland birds, and provide other environmental benefits, including soil health, water quality, and carbon sequestration.