The Trustees Expand Habitat for Rare Grassland Birds

Contact Information
Brian DeGasperis
Regional Ecologist
781.784.0567 x7011

Media Inquiries
Kristi Perry
Public Relations Manager

Needham, MA – Charles River Peninsula, situated off of Fisher Street, within a pronounced meander of the Charles River, has changed dramatically in the last few weeks, with more improvements to come. Thanks to a generous grant from the Massachusetts Landowner Incentive Program, The Trustees of Reservations have recently completed clearing 2.4 acres of overgrown field edges, tree islands, hedgerows, and invasive plants to significantly improve the area of available nesting habitat for grassland bird species such as bobolink, Savannah sparrows, and Eastern meadowlarks.

Grassland-dependent birds, which nest in tall grass rather than in trees, are declining throughout their range as former agricultural fields revert to forest or are developed. Increasingly, grassland wildlife is dependent on smaller and fragmented habitat that requires management and often restoration.

Since its establishment in 1960, the Charles River Peninsula Reservation has provided nesting habitat for grassland birds, but populations have recently been limited by an overgrown hedgerow and encroaching field margins that fragmented the 19-acre field. By removing encroaching woody vegetation from areas that were agricultural just a few decades ago, grasses and wildflowers will prosper here once again. These plants, in turn, will attract and provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife dependent on grassland habitat including butterflies, moths, and birds.

“The scale of this project is important since once the size of a field reaches or exceeds 20 acres, the chances for a diverse and sustainable community of wildlife increases greatly compared with smaller fields,” says Russ Hopping, Ecology Program Manager for The Trustees of Reservations.

Without active management such as regular mowing and the recent clearing at Charles River Peninsula, this rare habitat and the species dependent upon it would disappear entirely from Massachusetts. As the restoration efforts continue over the next couple of years, visitors are welcomed and encouraged to watch this habitat evolve into a healthy, and growing, grassland with thriving wildlife populations.

Charles River Peninsula offers many year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Visitors can stroll the one mile trail that meanders through the wooded buffer and field edge along the banks of the river, launch a canoe or kayak at the adjacent Red Wing Bay boat launch and paddle around the Peninsula’s shoreline, or, bring binoculars to look for Eastern bluebirds, tree swallows, and other birds using the many nest boxes that are regularly monitored by volunteers.

About the Trustees’ Mission: Past & Present
Since its founding in 1891 by Charles Eliot, an open space visionary and protégé of the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, The Trustees’ mission has been to preserve, protect and care for properties of exceptional scenic, historic, recreational and ecological value in Massachusetts. As land is being developed and open space is being fragmented at a rapid pace of an estimated 40 acres per day around the state, The Trustees are working to mobilize and inspire a critical mass of people and partners who care about quality of life in their communities.

About The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees are 100,000 people like you, from every corner of Massachusetts, who share a deep set of similar values: a love of the land, of nature and the outdoors, and of the distinctive charms of New England, as well as a shared vision: to celebrate and protecting them for everyone, forever.

With 99 reservations, comprising nearly 25,000 acres – all of which are open to the public – The Trustees of Reservations’ properties are tremendously diverse and include: mountains and hilltops; forests and woodlands; river valleys and waterfalls; islands, 70 miles of coastline, barrier beaches; marshes, bogs, swamps; open fields and meadows; farms, historic homesteads, five National Historic landmarks; and now recently, through our permanent affiliation with Boston Natural Areas Network, community gardens and urban wilds throughout the city of Boston.

The Trustees employ 180 full-time and 350–400 seasonal staff with expertise in many areas, including ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how you can interview Trustees’ experts on important topics and issues, volunteer, or become a member, please call The Trustees of Reservations at 781.784.0567, visit at, or email