New York Natural Heritage Program
Upland Sandpiper
Bartramia longicauda (Bechstein, 1812)
Birds

Threats [-]
Grassland birds are considered the most at risk group of birds in eastern North America. Historically, the Upland Sandpiper was extensively persecuted as a game species for both its flesh and eggs, and they were considered a delicacy. Eaton (1910) however, stated that because of their wariness they were too difficult for New York sportsmen to shoot. Currently, the loss and fragmentation of agricultural grasslands due to increased urbanization, changes in farming practices (earlier and more frequent mowing, increased cultivation of row crops), and natural forest succession of abandoned farmlands pose the most serious threats to this species (Carter 1992). Factors associated with agricultural intensification and industrial agriculture tend to degrade grassland bird habitat including: increased mechanization and use of pesticides, removal of hedgerows, spring plowing, land drainage, spread of monocultures, mowing earlier in the season when birds are still nesting, and higher livestock stocking rates (Askins et al. 2007). Declines of farmland birds across Europe have also been linked to more intensive agricultural practices (Donald et al. 2006). Wintering ground threats such as habitat conversion in South America may also play an important role in population viability.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
The continued existence of Upland Sandpipers in New York will be determined almost entirely by the existence of a healthy farm economy. This bird requires forest succession to be continually set back, fairing poorly under intensive industrial farming practices. Despite being lumped in with other obligate grassland birds, this species' habitat needs are quite different from the smaller, shorter distance migrant passerines. Primarily, this bird needs very large (the bigger the better), nearly bare-ground pastures and older fields that have been in hay production for at least 10 years. The first cutting of hay should be delayed past July 15 to allow nests to fledge, and grazing intensity should not be too heavy. Programs that provide farmers with economic incentives to manage their land for conservation such as the newly implemented Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) will be crucial. Some good resources for specific management practices for grassland birds in the northeast can be found in Morgan and Burger 2007; Winter et al. 2006; Norment 2002; Bollinger 1995; Lazazzero and Norment 2005; Dechant et al. 2003. The Cornell Cooperative Extension published a series of articles on grassland bird conservation. They can be accessed at: http://scnyat.cce.cornell.edu/grassland/

Research Needs [-]
Very few studies have been conducted on this species within New York State, and it is often lumped with other obligate grassland bird species. Because grassland birds show wide regional discrepancies in habitat selection and population dynamics, research specific to New York is essential (Askins et al. 2007). Studies on the effects of pesticides have not been conducted, but should be a high priority given this bird's agricultural habitat and insectivorous diet. Little is known of the wintering ecology of Upland Sandpipers in South America, and the degree to which populations are limited on the breeding vs. wintering grounds. Given that this species spends about two-thirds of the year in South America, wintering ground studies should be a high priority. This species appears amenable to radio telemetry studies (Mong and Sandercock 2005) which may give a better picture of habitat selection and use.