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

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

Celebrating the birds

Black-capped chickadee, Hazel Bird Day, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by Cameron Curran)

Black-capped chickadee, Hazel Bird Day, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by Cameron Curran)

On Saturday, May 11, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) welcomed more than 100 supporters, neighbours and bird enthusiasts to the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve for the second Hazel Bird Day. The family-friendly event offered hikes, talks, bird banding, kids' activities and a BBQ lunch. We were also joined by the Honourable David Piccini, Member of Provincial Parliament for Northumberland-Peterborough South, Pam Crowe, acting Chief of Alderville First Nation, Bill Cane, mayor of Hamilton Township and Stephen Burman, Ontario Trillium Foundation volunteer. 

Also joining in the celebration this year were employees of Proof Inc., a Canadian marketing communications company. As part of the ongoing restoration of native species to the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve, 325 trees were planted in 2019, thanks to Proof. To celebrate 25 years of operations, Proof planted one tree for each of the 325 people who have worked for the company, past or present, since 1994. 

Hazel Bird Nature Reserve was named for local naturalist and bird lover Hazel Bird. The nature reserve provides important habitat for grassland birds, including the eastern bluebird. For many years, Hazel put up nest boxes for the vivid, deep blue- and rust-coloured bird. Some of her family were in attendance at the event.

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. It also celebrates the volunteers and conservation projects that help birds.

Watch last year's Hazel Bird Day

Located on the Rice Lake Plains north of Coburg, Ontario, the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve is part of a unique area once dominated by massive black and white oaks and grasses. Big bluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass once 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.

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

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

To learn more about Hazel Bird or to find out how you can visit this property, check out NCC's Nature Destinations.

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