Volunteer Grassland Bird Monitoring With The Trustees of Reservations

     Looking to get involved with a local wildlife monitoring project? Want to help protect threatened bird species? Join the Trustees of Reservation’s volunteer grassland bird monitoring program!

     We are seeking dedicated volunteers to help us survey grassland bird populations on our properties across the state. This position requires a 3-month commitment, from May-July. During this time, volunteers visit their assigned property on a monthly basis (more frequent visits are encouraged) and conduct a standardized point count survey, with special attention being given to identifying bobolinks. While having some birding experience and a pair of binoculars is desired, a willingness to learn about bobolinks and other grassland birds is all that is required!

     Through this opportunity, you have the chance to connect with the local landscape and wildlife, take part in a community science initiative, enhance your birding skills, and join an enthusiastic community of birding volunteers. Visit our “2023 Grassland Bird Monitoring Locations” map to find a monitoring property near you. Additionally, interested volunteers should email me (Isabel Bronson) at ibronson@thetrustees.org, so we can connect via Teams or Zoom and chat more about the program.

Volunteer Grassland Bird Monitoring Opportunity

Opportunity Overview:

The Trustees is seeking local birders and naturalists to help survey grassland habitat to document grassland bird populations. The Trustees has long identified the management of suitable nesting habitat for grassland birds as a key goal, and is actively working to balance habitat needs with other priorities, such as the production of high-quality forage for its agricultural operations. The Trustees has taken steps to ensure nesting success of grassland birds in certain fields by restricting activities during the breeding season. Comprehensive volunteer monitoring of grassland bird populations across fields with a range of management types will clarify the effectiveness of these efforts.

Responsibilities (may include but are not limited to the following):

  • Conduct a minimum of one site visit per month from May – July to assigned grasslands. However, we strongly encourage volunteers to visit more frequently
  • Conduct standardized point count surveys on each visit for bobolink, eastern meadowlark, savanna sparrow, red-winged blackbird, grasshopper sparrows, and American kestrel
  • Record survey results on a standardized data sheet or on eBird and submit results to the Trustees current TerraCorps member via email
  • Photograph survey points
  • Log volunteer hours

This data will be used to help determine which hayfields/pastures/other fields are important for sustaining grassland species and will inform field management activities. Over the long-term, these surveys will allow The Trustees to assess grassland bird trends in our fields and evaluate the success of our management regimes to support grassland birds.


  • Be confident in identifying target grassland birds by sight and sound or have a desire/willingness to familiarize themselves with common grassland birds, especially bobolinks
  • Have the ability to make a minimum of three morning visits to their assigned grasslands (have access to transportation and have the time to commit)
  • Be able to navigate using aerial photographs and other maps and follow survey protocol
  • Be comfortable participating in light walking/hiking on variable terrain
  • Have the ability to withstand hot/humid conditions
  • Have access to binoculars
  • Please note: a background check is required for this role

Volunteers will be given data sheets to record survey results, aerial photos of their assigned grasslands with survey points highlighted, and detailed instructions about how to conduct the
surveys and submit the data. Birders are needed at our properties across Massachusetts.