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Here’s what we’re doing for Species at Risk…

On a recent sunny and cold winter's day more than 70 participants took part in a bird conservation workshop hosted by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative. This free event was held on Saturday February 6th at the Alderville Black Oak Savanna Ecology Centre. Interested landowners from Northumberland and surrounding counties learned about bird species at risk throughout the Rice Lake Plains. Willow Beach Field Naturalist Executive member Ben Walters who is also a Ph.D. candidate at Trent University, Peterborough, provided insight to the changing bird populations of the area. He combed hundreds of ornithological records dating back to the 1820s to produce an in-depth look at Birds of the Rice Lake Plains.

Barbara Frei also a Ph.D. candidate, from McGill University in Montreal, spoke about "Biodiversity in your Backyard - The Story of Red-headed Woodpeckers in Central Ontario". Ms. Frei will begin three years of field work this spring throughout Northumberland, Peterborough and Hastings Counties looking for the only woodpecker with an all-red head. She is asking landowners to assist her with her research by contacting her with Red-headed Woodpecker sightings at

The NCC together with the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative, a seven-member organization, are working towards the restoration and protection of sustainable tallgrass prairie and oak savanna habitat. They are using a co-operative approach to conservation science, land stewardship, public outreach, and legal protection of land.

The workshop was partially funded by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk Stewardship Fund and Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program. NCC and the Rice Lake Plains Joint Initiative continue to seek information about many bird species at risk such as the Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will and Red-headed Woodpecker as well as snake species like the Milksnake and Eastern Hog-nosed snake. Landowners who see these species are encouraged to contact NCC at (905) 862-2642 or by email at Photographs of these species are most helpful for record keeping purposes as are details of their location and behaviour.

Kristina Hubert
Nature Conservancy of Canada