Working together to bring back grassland birds

The following text was sent out via email on October 27, 2023. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

Dear Supporter,

I’d like to share exciting news about our Virginia Grassland Bird Initiative, now in its third year. This is a collaborative effort of PEC, Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes, Quail Forever and American Farmland Trust working together with landowners and farmers to restore grassland habitat for the benefit of birds and farms across the Virginia Piedmont, Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley.

Native grasslands have suffered a more intense impact from humans than any other North American terrestrial ecosystem. In response, remaining grassland birds have begun to rely on hayfields and pastureland as their primary habitat. VGBI offers landowners and farmers the tools and technical assistance to help protect these grassland birds while benefiting their agricultural operations.

Financial incentives program application open through Nov. 15

Learn how the Virginia Grassland Bird Initiative can support your farm production goals next spring! Open to 16 counties, VGBI’s financial incentives program pays farmers $35 per acre for delayed haying and/or summer pasture stockpiling during the spring nesting season. Both practices focus on balancing grassland bird conservation and long-term production goals.

Since 2021, 27 farmers have formally enrolled 1,500 acres of land into our financial incentives program, and 13 have implemented delayed haying or summer pasture stockpiling on another 1,800 acres voluntarily, without the financial incentives.

This year, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Sarah K. de Coizart Perpetual Charitable Trust have provided funding to support 1,500 acres!

Submit your application today at who already participate in grassland bird-friendly land management or would like to participate in our program without receiving financial incentives can fill out this form.

Installing nest boxes

Installing a nest box with VGBI’s other co-coordinator, Justin Proctor, from Smithsonian’s Virginia Working Landscapes. Check out the video →

Nest boxes are a great way for landowners to connect with and support many at-risk bird species. In 2023, VGBI installed over 40 new American kestrel nest boxes on private lands across the region. The nest boxes were built by Rappahannock County High School students with grant funding from the Richard Lykes Rappahannock Community Fund.

To learn more about our nest box program, visit

Introducing Lauria McShane

I’m pleased to introduce Lauria McShane, who joined PEC in this fall as the VGBI Assistant. Based in our Charlottesville office, Lauria is primarily working in Albemarle, Greene, Orange, and Madison counties. She will be organizing landowner workshops, professional conferences, onsite field walks, and much more to promote grassland bird habitat management. She’ll also be meeting with landowners to provide site-specific technical assistance and related information on wildlife habitat and resource management options.

If you’d like to connect with her, reach out to Lauria at!

If you have any questions about PEC’s grassland bird work and how you can get involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our team members.


October Greenfield
Wildlife Habitat Restoration Coordinator
VGBI Co-Coordinator
(540) 347-2334 ext. 7051

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