Forest Legacy Landbird Project - Working Lands

Letting it Grow: How Landowners are Helping Birds by Mowing Less

Allison Bovée and Mary Vogel have changed their landscaping practices at BirdTown Cabins in western North Carolina to create new bird habitat.

By Aimee Tomcho, conservation biologist who joined the Audubon North Carolina staff in 2013.

BirdTown Cabins in Bakersville is staying true to their name, thanks to the commitment of owners Allison Bovée and Mary Vogel and a little help from Audubon. The couple has spent years allowing vegetation to grow on their otherwise meticulously landscaped property, all in the name of bird habitat.

Their land sits just below the Roan Highlands ridgeline, a known habitat stronghold for Golden-winged Warblers in the southern Appalachian region. The property is a picturesque mountain homestead, with three goats wandering the yard and creek-side boulders that give rise to babbling waterfalls flowing on both edges of a little cove.

As avid cyclists, Alli and Mary are an energetic couple, a trait also seen in their dedication to maintaining their landscape planning. So several years ago, when I recommended that they discontinue mowing several acres of field to increase grasses and forb cover for ground-nesting birds such as the Golden-winged Warbler, I wasn’t sure how they would react. It would take a couple of years for adequate regrowth of enough native ground stems. Yet when we checked in with them after a few years, Mary and Alli had not faltered in their commitment to birds at BirdTown and have continued to allow a portion of their property to regenerate bird-friendly vegetation.

Effective land stewardship often requires years of commitment, so Audubon doesn’t take it lightly when landowners like Alli and Mary truly dedicate a part of their property to bird conservation, especially when that means altering the land management practices they are accustomed to doing.

Please join Audubon in recognizing Mary and Alli of BirdTown Cabins in Bakersville as a part of our national network of places working to restore grass and shrubland habitats for birds. Learn more about our Working Lands program here.


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