Sotterley Presents: People and Perspectives with David Moulton

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David Moulton, founder of Saving Southern Maryland’s Grassland Birds, will discuss the role Sotterley has played in finding ways to bale hay while trying not to harm baby birds at the same time. Some grassland birds, such as the Eastern Meadowlark, nest only in large hay fields during May and June – often conflicting directly with the spring hay harvest. With Sotterley’s property manager, Joe Goldsmith, David has undertaken a series of experiments to demonstrate that by altering harvest techniques, timing and patterns, Southern Maryland hay farmers can often maintain their haying operations while significantly increasing the reproductive success of the birds. He will outline their findings and share ideas about maintaining the area's agricultural heritage and conserving threatened wildlife.

Moulton has been an avid birder since he was a boy in Massachusetts, where he accompanied his dad to such birding hotspots as Plum Island, Cape Ann and the Great Meadows of Concord. He moved to Washington, D.C., to attend law school at Georgetown and to pursue a professional career working on energy, environment and climate policy in the US House of Representatives. Now in retirement, Moulton devotes much of his time to saving habitat for birds. In 2020, he initiated a nonprofit demonstration project in St. Mary’s County – Saving Southern Maryland’s Grassland Birds. This project experiments with bird-friendly hay mowing techniques that can lessen the mortality of grassland birds during the breeding season. Through the “Grassland Ambassadors” at the Southern Maryland Audubon Society, he is hoping to reduce the decline of hayfield-nesting birds with the cooperation of conservation-minded landowners.

Moulton has served as the field trip coordinator for the Southern Maryland Audubon Society, a board member of the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust, and is currently a member of the Administrative Board of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. After six decades-worth of hours in the field, he can report a Life List for North American species that tops 700 species.