Prairie smoke on the Carden Alvar (Photo by Ethan Meleg)

Prairie smoke on the Carden Alvar (Photo by Ethan Meleg)

Swapping shrubs for songbirds

October 11, 2018


Thanks to an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant the Nature Conservancy of Canada can now help restore habitat for grassland birds

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) can now do more to help grassland birds on the internationally important Carden Alvar, located northeast of Lake Simcoe.  

Thanks to a $17,700 Capital grant awarded earlier this year by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), NCC will be able to enhance grassland habitat on the Carden Alvar. This new funding will support efforts to remove shrubs and invasive species to encourage grassland habitats to flourish; important habitat for at-risk birds like the eastern meadowlark, bobolink and loggerhead shrike.

These funds have helped to provide much-needed equipment for staff and volunteers to use in the field. Thanks to OTF, NCC was able to purchase an ATV for hauling supplies, and other equipment to remove invasive shrubs throughout its conservation lands in the area.

At today’s Conservation Volunteers event, volunteers have been invited to come out to NCC’s properties on the Carden Alvar. They helped remove invasive shrubs, such as buckthorn and Tatarian honeysuckle, and learned more about this important natural area. Events like this help NCC with priority stewardship work, which is key to supporting local grassland and alvar species.

The Carden Alvar is an outstanding example of globally threatened alvar habitat. Alvars are characterized by thin soils over limestone bedrock. The area’s grasslands, shrublands, forests and wetlands are home to 450 plant species, 142 butterfly and dragonfly species, five turtle species, seven snake species, 15 amphibian species and a remarkable 238 bird species.

"This grant will help us grow and expand important grassland habitats for rare birds,” said Erica Thompson, NCC's program director, central Ontario-West. “The healthy population of grassland birds we see and hear today are an indication that our work is already helping these species." 


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) 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 200,000 acres (more than 82,000 hectares) in Ontario. To learn more, visit

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects this year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. 

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Media Contact:

Nicole Senyi
Communications Manager
Ontario Region
C: 416-937-5079

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