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. 

Progress

The City’s consultant created a 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.

Photo of a a hillside with long grass mowed down
Mowing and vegetation removal

Photo of grassy rolling hills
Phase 1 seeding

Construction of this project is now complete:

  • Phase 1: Construction began on November 24, 2015
  • Phase 2: Complete in the fall of 2016

Update: September 20, 2017
During the 2017 monitoring period, multiple Bobolink were observed within the newly created habitat. Confirmation of a breeding pair of Bobolink was also received. Although this indicates successful habitat enhancement, we will continue to monitor the success of the habitat. Please monitor this website for future project updates.

Details

The landfill was covered with shrub thickets and grassed meadows. The existing ratio of grasses to shrubs on the site was 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 below details the various stages of construction that was completed and the monitoring this project will undergo:

  • The existing grassland was mowed and clippings were collected and disposed of on site
  • Some of the existing shrub material on the site was cut to the ground, chipped and spread over the site to decompose naturally over time. The removal of shrubs was required to create more open grassland habitat
  • A new seed mix was 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 occur to ensure the habitat functions as intended

Background

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
Email: ken.wheaton@hamilton.ca