Hazel Bird look-out, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by NCC)

Hazel Bird look-out, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by NCC)

Celebrating birds on the plains

May 13, 2019
Cobourg, ON


Nature Conservancy of Canada celebrates a $663,200 grant for restoration of the Rice Lake Plains

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), in honour of the 26th World Migratory Bird Day, hosted the 2nd Hazel Bird Day.

Thanks to a three-year, $663,200 Grow Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation made in late 2017, the national land conservation organization has been able to do even more to help conserve habitat for grassland birds on the Rice Lake Plains. This funding has been used to restore important tall grass prairie and oak savannah habitat throughout the Rice Lake Plains. To date, over 2,000 acres of these at-risk ecosystems have been or are being restored by NCC.

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 has already helped us grow and expand these rare and endangered tall grass ecosystems,” says Mark Stabb, program director, central Ontario-east. “At the same time, it continues to 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 tall grass habitat awakening is well underway."

“As the MPP for Northumberland-Peterborough South, I recognize the importance of conservation and the protection of our environment,” said David Piccini, MPP for Northumberland-Peterborough South. “I was pleased to attend the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve on Saturday, May 11 to celebrate Hazel Bird Day on the Rice Lake Plains. I was proud to highlight the continued financial support through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, a contribution of over $600,000 to the conservation of the Rice Lake Plains Natural Area. I strongly support the great work that the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve and the Nature Conservancy of Canada do for the conservation of this land and to ensure it remains viable for years to come for our community to enjoy.”

Hazel Bird Day is 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 26th 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.

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 have also been 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 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares), coast to coast, with more than 184,000 acres (74,400 hectares) 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 that has accelerated the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has managed the program since its inception in 2007. Federal funds have been 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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