Hazel Bird Day, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by Cameron Curran)

Hazel Bird Day, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by Cameron Curran)

Celebrating restoration on the plains

May 12, 2018
Coburg, ON


Nature Conservancy of Canada celebrates World Migratory Bird Day at inaugural Hazel Bird Day on the Rice Lake Plains

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in honour of World Migratory Bird Day, hosted the inaugural Hazel Bird Day; a family-friendly event with hikes, talks and a BBQ lunch at the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, on the Rice Lake Plains, just 20 minutes north of Cobourg.

This year commemorates the 25th anniversary of International Migratory Bird Day (now World Migratory Bird Day), the first hemisphere-wide celebration of migratory birds. This annual event highlights the need to protect migratory birds and conserve their habitats, which range from Canada to Argentina and the Caribbean, and the volunteers and conservation projects that help birds.

Thanks to a three-year, $663,200 Grow grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation made in late 2017, the national land conservation organization will be able to do even more to help conserve habitat for grassland birds on the Rice Lake Plains. This new funding will be used for the restoration of important tall grass prairie and oak savannah habitat on the Rice Lake Plains Natural Area.

Located on the Oak Ridges Moraine between Cobourg and Rice Lake, this unique area was once dominated by massive black and white oak and grasses including big bluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass that grew more than two metres high. Today, the Rice Lake Plains are badly fragmented and overgrown with non-native species. A refuge for species at risk, including many grassland birds and eastern hog-nosed snake, the Rice Lake Plains remain a priority for conservation.

"This multi-year grant will help us grow and expand these rare and endangered tall grass ecosystems,” says Mark Stabb, program director – central Ontario-east. “At the same time, it will help us engage more people in habitat restoration efforts through volunteer projects and community events such as Hazel Bird Day. The healthy population of grassland birds we see and hear today are an indication that the tallgrass habitat awakening is well underway."

To date, NCC and its partners through the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative, which includes Alderville First Nation, have conserved more than 2,500 acres (1,084 hectares) on the Rice Lake Plains. The Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, and other Rice Lake Plains properties were generously supported by funding from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program and other donors.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast, with more than 74,400 hectares (184,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.

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.

The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.

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Nicole Senyi
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Ontario Region
C: 416-937-5079

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