Destruction of Nesting Birds

On May 13-14, 2024, as part of a parking lot repaving and upgrade project, Market Basket in Milford, NH dredged a half acre of wetland at the entrance to their property. 

Market Basket wetland before dredging (Aug 2023)

Created in 1995, the pond was designed to capture rainwater. Over the decades, cattails filled the area and the pond became a wetland nesting site for red-winged blackbirds and grackles.

In May, blackbirds are actively building nests, sitting on eggs, and feeding hatchlings.

Such was the case at Market Basket, where blackbirds were seen flying in and out of the reeds, to and from their nests.  

Although the Market Basket store manager and the contractor, Continental Paving, were made aware of the presence of the birds, they proceeded with the dredging anyhow.

After being brushed aside when she expressed concern for the birds to the Market Basket store manager, one determined woman stood with a sign to inform shoppers.

Others joined her, some vowing never to shop at Market Basket again.

Concerned citizen informs shoppers

A knowledgeable Milford resident got involved and immediately sent an urgent alert to the state and federal agencies with jurisdiction over migratory birds asking them to step in and protect the birds. 

End of Day 1

By the end of the first day of dredging, more than half the pond was gone and countless blackbird eggs, nestlings, and fledgings had been destroyed.

Adult birds with food and nesting material in their beaks flew about frantically looking for their young.

A red-winged blackbird (circled) searches where his nest used to be.

Day 2

On the second day of the dredging project, we returned, with hope that the agencies charged with protecting birds would intervene

Instead, we watched helplessly as the massive digger destroyed the rest of the habitat.

As the excavator advanced relentlessly, we watched as adult birds, having waited as long as they could, finally flew out of the reeds, leaving their young behind

We also filmed it.

One protester spotted a lone fledgling and entered the pond to rescue him. Making her way toward the bird, she begged the machine operator to stop, pointing to the baby bird, but he kept going.

Protester enters pond to rescue a fledging.

She was able to scoop up the bird and contacted rehabilitator Maria Colby of Wings of the Dawn for guidance.

Too young to fend for himself, the bird was brought to the rehabilitator for care until he is old enough to be released. 

The lone rescued baby bird

The Fight Is Not Over

The woman who started this campaign by standing alone with a sign outside Market Basket wrote a song about what happened and put it on YouTube:   

Play Video

While the fight is over for the birds who lost their lives and homes, it is not over for us!

We are working to hold Market Basket accountable and ensure that such reckless disregard for wildlife and wildlife habitat does not happen again.