Meadows, also referred to as pastures or fields, made up a large portion of Lewisboro during agricultural times until the post World War II housing boom eliminated most of them. Today there are approximately 900 acres of meadows, making up only 5% of Lewisboro’s land. The open vistas, grasses and wildflowers of our meadows make them perhaps the most beautiful of all our habitats.
In addition to many species of birds, there are some unexpected residents; reptiles such as the box turtle and mammals including bobcat are at home here. Amazing butterflies will also visit not just meadows but unmowed lawns. They include the great spangled fritillary, American lady, red admiral, question mark, pearl crescent, painted lady, red-spotted purple, spring azure, American copper, eastern tailed -blue, eastern tiger swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail and orange sulfur.
What you can do
Homeowners can help! Meadows are the easiest of habitats to create by simply not mowing a portion of your lawn more than once or twice a year. While some birds like the kestrel and the bobolink require large (at least 25 acres) of territory, bluebirds will nest in bluebird boxes in undisturbed areas. Wildflowers will also return on their own. Many beautiful butterflies, moths, bees, and other beneficial insects will also be attracted to the taller grasses and wildflowers when a lawn is allowed to grow and become a meadow! It is an ecosystem that thrums with life.
Did you know?
Native grasses and wildflowers that will quickly return to unmowed lawns include: swamp, orange and common milkweed, asters, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, hawkweed, St. Johns wort, birds foot trefoil, bee-balm, mountain mint, black eyed Susan, little blue stem grass, many types of goldenrod, meadowsweet, red clover, blue vervain and New York ironweed.
Some Things That Have Helped
Efforts to delay the mowing of fields in North Salem during the nesting periods of spring and summer have lead to a recovery of the bobolink there. Perhaps some of their offspring will return to the Reservation someday!
Kestrels had not been seen for over a decade at Ward Pound Ridge Reservations, but once kestrel boxes were placed on telephone poles they returned.
Which Lewisboro Preserves Have this Habitat?
Species in Decline
Due to the loss of fields many of the species that depend on this habitat are in steep decline including: bluebird (the New York State bird), woodcock, bobolink, meadowlark, blue-winged warbler, prairie warbler, field sparrow and kestrel (a small falcon).
Bobolink and meadowlark were common at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation fields throughout the 1970’s but have not been observed there since, despite there not being any change in the size of the meadows there. Their disappearance is most likely due to the loss of meadows surrounding the Reservation.