• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Grassland bird conservation – searching for common ground

In Agencies
Nov 23rd, 2016

Plaque presentation: from left, Andrew Campomizzi, Research Scientist, Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario; Richard Kelly, OTF Grant Review Team member for Simcoe-York; Zoé Lebrun-Southcott, Executive Director, Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario. -Gerald Morris photo

News release from Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario

On Tuesday, November 22, a group of farmers, community members, and biologists gathered at the Tiffin Centre for Conservation for a workshop to discuss how to find common ground between grassland bird conservation and farming. The event, led by Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario (BECO) in collaboration with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, was part of BECO’s new program focusing on birds at risk in agricultural landscapes. The program was launched earlier this year, with support from a Seed Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).

A large proportion of land in southern Ontario is used for agriculture and these areas provide essential habitat for birds whose populations are declining. The goal of this new program is to work with the agricultural community and other stakeholders to gather new ecological data that can help to address challenging conservation issues for farmland birds at risk.

This summer, BECO staff spent countless hours observing Bobolink, a species at risk in Ontario that commonly nests on the ground in hayfields and pastures. Because of the overlap between the nesting season and when producers need to cut their hay fields and graze their pastures, these birds, along with other grassland species, are often unsuccessful in producing young. Through ecological research, BECO is learning more about grassland birds, how they are affected by current agricultural practices, and what can be done to help slow the sharp decline of Ontario’s Bobolink population.

“We are thrilled to be working closely with producers who are creating the nesting habitat these birds depend on, to learn more about how to support these species and the feasibility and challenges of potential conservation actions” said Zoé Lebrun-Southcott, Executive Director and Wildlife Biologist at BECO. “It’s only by working together with the agricultural community that we’ll be able to develop effective conservation and stewardship strategies for these species at risk. The Seed Grant from OTF gave us the support we needed to launch this program and begin addressing this critical conservation challenge.”

“I am delighted to see that Ontario Trillium Foundation funding is allowing Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario, and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, to do such great work,” Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson said. “I want to thank everyone involved in the Bobolink project for their dedication.”

BECO is a non-profit and charitable organization working to answer ecological questions and improve conservation efforts for birds in Ontario. They strive to address critical knowledge gaps, develop strategic collaborations, and conduct ecological research that leads to more effective and efficient conservation actions. www.beco-birds.org

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities. www.otf.ca

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