Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New York Project

Grassland Birds and Solar Energy

April 2023 - March 2027


Participating Agencies

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Solar energy provides a viable means by which to mitigate climate change, yet it's land intensive and causes land-use change. Suitable sites for solar energy, including agricultural lands, also provide nesting habitat for grassland birds. We know very little about how grassland birds and solar energy interact at local- and landscape-levels. Grassland birds are globally declining in response to rapid land-use and land-cover change, among other factors. Given the potential overlap of grassland bird habitat and current siting for solar energy in the northeastern, there are growing concerns regarding solar energy and grassland bird conservation; these concerns are exacerbated by known responses of grassland birds to patch dynamics that may be influenced by solar energy siting. Sustainable solar siting can be informed our research. The project is funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; staff at the NYSDEC are collaborating on the research project. We also are working with SUNY Brockport, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the USFWS, and renewable energy industry partners. Our research will inform solar energy siting and development for grassland bird conservation and guide sustainable solutions for increasing solar energy development to mitigate climate change.