Not too long ago, the sound of whip-poor-wills excitedly calling their name at dusk, and of ruffed grouse drumming repeatedly at sunrise were familiar sounds throughout most parts of our state. Now, when we lounge on the back porch as night falls, or enter the woods at first light, many of us wonder where these sounds have gone.
The reality is that these enticing sounds are fading from the landscape as early-successional habitats (e.g., abandoned fields, grasslands, and shrublands) are developed or revert to forest. As time marches on, it becomes increasingly important to reclaim and maintain these dwindling early-successional habitats. Many of us are familiar with the valuable effort to conserve old-growth forests, but few among us recognize the need to manage a breadth of habitats, from fields and shrublands to old growth.
In recent years, large tree and shrub eating machinery can be found roaming MassWildlife's Management Areas and elsewhere around the state, selectively clearing vegetation from abandoned farm fields to reclaim habitat for whip-poor-wills, ruffed grouse and other species that require early-successional habitats. Early-successional wildlife species have been dramatically declining over the past 50 years primarily because of a lack of suitable habitat. The Upland Habitat Management Program (Upland Program) was created to address this decline.