Help to save the bobolinks at Rabbit Run Farm

| 26 Jun 2024 | 10:18

Once again, as with the five past years, unique nesting habitat of the rare “bobolink” songbird have been destroyed by mowing, with baby birds being chopped up alive, at Rabbit Run Farms on Wisner road in Warwick.

This does not involve authentic “farmers,” but rather a wealthy urbanite property owner that doesn’t care about nature, as evidenced by their refusal to even respond to years of letters, emails, and even UPS-drop letters sent to them by a rapidly growing number of concerned locals.

The bobolink is one of North America’s longest distance migrators, making a roundtrip journey of 12,500 miles each year to nest in the same exact spot as their previous year. Many bobolinks die on the migration across two continents. I’m a lifelong hunter, no “treehugger” by any means, but I eat what I shoot, and I only take common game species. This senseless slaughter (by torturous slow-death live-chopping of baby birds, no less) of an incredibly unique, rare long-migrating species makes no sense, especially when it’s done only for the aesthetics of a farm bought by wealthy out-of-towners who clearly possess no respect for nature. This will be the fifth year we’ve asked them to delay their mowing. For eight generations, my own family have farmed Warwick, and like all other authentic farmers, they followed schedules to which the ambient ecology, including bobolinks, adapted. When wealthy urbanites buy enormous ancient farmsteads and change mowing schedules to suit their aesthetic preferences, it can, and will, wipe out entire populations of local species. When it’s a critically imperiled species like the bobolink, it can lead to local extinction... which we’re heading toward.

I tried to speak with the contract mowers, to no luck. I even asked them how much profit they’d lose by waiting three weeks longer to mow the nesting fields, so that I might try to do a fundraiser to offset this.

I spoke with Senator Skoufis about finding money to pay these mowers to offset fiscal losses suffered by waiting three weeks to mow in July, instead of now.

Many of us reached out to Orange County Audubon, who were no help at all; the Edgar Mearns birding group flat-out refused to help in any way at all, despite their flocking to Wisner Road to enjoy watching these birds.

We asked Sustainable Warwick, years ago, and they also refused to help. Along with these rare birds, enormous stands of butterfly-attracting “Joe Pye weed” and milkweed are also mown down, along with hundreds of butterfly caterpillars.

Despite this fact, the “monarch city” group in Warwick refuses to help, while continuing to hold their fashionable “Save the Pollinators” fundraisers that help to boost their own social currency.

One of the naturalists who enjoys these birds, nature photographer Herb Houghton, started an online petition asking the owners of Rabbit Run Farm to simply delay mowing for three weeks.

If you feel that these birds deserve protection, please sign Herb’s petition:

On behalf of declining species, Thank you.

Jay Westerveld

Sugar Loaf

Jay Westerveld has been an internationally-recognized research ecologist and educator for over 40 years throughout America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. Locally, He co-founded the Glenmere Conservation Coalition, the Sugar Loaf Historical Society, the Chester Conservation Council, the New York Natural History council and the WAWAYANDA Watershed Alliance.