Restored meadows help increase our bird, insect, and small mammal diversity by providing early successional habitat that is rare in our region. You are more likely to find some bird species, like the American Woodcock, Eastern Bluebird, or Tree Swallow, at Cliffdale than anywhere else at Teatown.
Prior to European settlement, meadow habitats were a regular part of northeastern landscapes. These open areas of early successional habitat were maintained through short fire intervals that were either set intentionally by Native Americans or occurred naturally via lightning strikes. Meadows provide an abundance of food resources and nesting habitat for grassland birds and small mammals that are specialized for these types of environments. Fire suppression, agriculture, and human development over the last 200 years have drastically reduced the amount of meadow habitat remaining in the northeast.
Today, most northeastern meadows are restored habitats specifically designed to increase biodiversity and create open space. Meadows need to be regularly maintained to sustain their ecological integrity, preventing them from transitioning into forest habitat. General maintenance includes removing shrubs and trees along the border, yearly mowing, and closely managing invasive species within the fields. Teatown maintains the Cliffdale meadows by mowing outside of the bird breeding season in early March.