A pasture walk at the Holm Family Farm in Elk Mound at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 8 will focus on birdsong and wildlife.
The walk theme will be “Birdsong on the Farm: How Grazing Provides Wildlife Habitat.”
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Bill Hogseth will guide the walk and share his knowledge of pasture land birds.
The event is part of the Graze River Country series organized by Wisconsin Farmers Union and River Country RC&D, with support from the Wisconsin DNR and Organic Valley.
Host farmers Doran and Mariann Holm are first generation organic farmers just north of Elk Mound. They have owned the farm since 1997 and started a dairy with 40 milking cows in 2001.
The farm was certified organic in 2004. The milking herd was sold in 2013, but dairy cattle remain on the farm as organic heifers continue to be custom raised.
Each day during the grazing season, the cattle are rotated on a new section of pasture. As an organic farm, no chemicals or genetically modified seeds are used. Soil health and biodiversity are the focus.
The farm includes 20 acres of woodlands and 85 acres of grassy pastures that provide a diverse habitat for birds.
The Holms regularly see flocks of turkeys combing through their pastures, hear the calls of pheasants from the tall underbrush, and welcome the return of barn swallows each year. Their boys, Danny and John, enjoy watching bluebirds build their nests and raise their young.
Bobolinks are a common sight and last year, Sandhill Cranes were often viewed near the grazing cattle.
Hogseth fell in love with birds when he held a Protonotary Warbler in a flooded Cyprus swamp in southern Illinois. He has years of experience working on bird surveys with DNR, USGS and the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas.
His interest is in game and song birds. He specializes in identifying birds via the ear by their song. Bill also has 15 years of experience managing habitat for grassland and forest birds in Wisconsin.
The walk will start with an early morning field trip to identify a variety of birds that are using the pasture habitat as their home. There will be an emphasis on identifying birds by song. The walk will also discuss habitat preferences of different species.
The walk is open to the public. Bring binoculars and bird identification books if you have them.
Attendees should RSVP to Kevin at 715-314-0338 or at www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com/upcoming-events
“These pasture walks offer the opportunity for farmers and consumers alike to see sound conservation practices in action,” said WFU Communications Director Danielle Endvick. “Wisconsin Farmers Union sees a lot of potential for grazing as a sustainable path forward, with numerous benefits for family farms, wildlife habitats and our watersheds. In these tough times for family farmers, it also carries economic benefits.”