Bobolink Habitat Creation

Bobolink Habitat Creation - Upper Ottawa Landfill

The Upper Ottawa Landfill was assessed and deemed to be a suitable property to create habitat for a regionally threatened species of bird called the Bobolink. This is an exciting project for the Landscape Architectural Services Section because it is the first Bobolink-specific habitat creation undertaken by the City of Hamilton. 


The City’s Consultant has created plan to construct Bobolink habitat at the Upper Ottawa Street Landfill site. The Ministry of Natural Resources provides information to aid the design, creation, and monitoring of new Bobolink Habitat. The main goal of habitat creation is to provide a safe and managed habitat which both attracts Bobolink to the site and allows these birds to thrive.

The construction process is under way and will be completed in two phases:

  • Phase 1 construction began on November 24, 2015 and be complete by March 31, 2016.
  • Phase 2 will begin after the Bobolink breeding season on or around August 1st, 2016 and be completed by September 15th 2016


How will the Habitat be Created?
The existing landfill is currently covered with bushes and grassed meadows. The current ratio of grasses to shrubs on the site is too low for what Bobolink prefer to nest in. Under the habitat creation and enhancement requirements by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the new or enhanced habitat must include the correct ratio of grasses to other vegetation. The process to establish habitat is:

  • Cutting existing grass to the ground.  Clippings will be collected and disposed of on another area of the site.
  • Some of the existing shrub material on the site will be cut to the ground, chipped and spread over the site to decompose naturally over time. The removal of shrubs is required to create more open grassland to be considered suitable habitat.
  • A new seed mix will be planted over the 11.35 hectares of Bobolink habitat.
  • The habitat will be monitored for a minimum of five years to determine the presence of Bobolink, and how well the new habitat functions.
  • Ongoing maintenance will be done ensure the habitat functions as intended.


What is a Bobolink?
Bobolink are migratory ground nesting birds which are about 16 to 18cm (6 to 8 inches) long. They are sleek in appearance and are mostly black and/or brown in colour with pale yellow markings on the neck and white and pale yellow spots/stripes on wings and wing tips. Bobolink spend most of their time in dense, tallgrass prairie ecosystems (also threatened in Ontario) and like to nest in hay fields. Nesting periods range from May 1 and July 31 before these birds migrate to southern South America for the winter.

Two of the main reasons these birds are threatened are:

  • Habitat loss due to development of new subdivisions (Greenfield Development)
  • Death due to agricultural schedules i.e. hay cutting during nesting season.

Contact us

If you have any questions or wish to submit a comment, contact:

Ken Wheaton
Project Manager
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 2289