Sun City, Kans. — The 6,780-acre Alexander Ranch in south-central Kansas, owned and operated by Brian Alexander, is a recipient of the Audubon Certified bird-friendly habitat designation from the National Audubon Society. The ranch provides grassland habitat for one of the remaining populations of Lesser Prairie-Chicken, an imperiled species recently listed as federally threatened in Kansas.
Alexander enrolled his working ranch in the Audubon Conservation Ranching program, a wildlife habitat effort working to stabilize declining grassland bird populations. His property lies within the Red Hills region, an ecologically significant and largely intact landscape of mixed-grass prairie. As an Audubon Certified bird-friendly habitat, Alexander is catering his grassland management to improve habitat conditions primarily for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Northern Bobwhite. Lesser Prairie-Chicken populations are separated into a pair of distinct population segments. South-central to western Kansas populations lie within the Northern Distinct Population Segment, officially listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in November.
Alexander says the focus on a pair of upland species carries benefits to many other birds. “These are umbrella species, so while they may get the attention, they’re flagship representatives of our entire grassland community.” Other bird beneficiaries from this management approach include the Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Upland Sandpiper.
By never grazing more than half of a pasture, Alexander manages his herd in a way that always leaves standing cover for birds and other wildlife. The grazing is also good in the long run, as the herd disturbance helps replenish the area’s soils, promotes the growth of new plant species, and results in different habitat structures for an assortment of birds and other wildlife. “The best habitat workers on the Alexander Ranch have hooves, said Chris Wilson, Audubon Conservation Ranching program director, “Managed rotational grazing is the key to maintaining the open, diverse habitat where Lesser Prairie-Chickens can thrive,” he said.
By meeting all Audubon Conservation Ranching program requirements – third-party verified – beef produced on the ranch can carry the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal. This package label recognizes product origin as lands managed for birds and biodiversity.
For more information about Audubon Conservation Ranching in Kansas, contact Chris Wilson at 816-824-9691.
About Audubon Conservation Ranching
A wildlife habitat initiative of the National Audubon Society with a unique market front, Audubon Conservation Ranching’s purpose is to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in partnership with ranchers – on whose land 95 percent of grassland birds live. Audubon Conservation Ranching’s enrollment includes over 100 ranches, covering over 3.5 million acres that have earned status as Audubon Certified bird-friendly land. Incentivizing this habitat work for birds and biodiversity are consumers with an appetite for conservation, who support it by purchasing products grazed on these lands. Shoppers see a special package designation – the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal – that sets these products apart. For more information, visit Audubon.org/ranching.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today, and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.