Persistence Pays Off
Since 2014, CVC’s Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program has supported rural landowners and farmers in their efforts to improve habitat for at-risk grassland birds by delaying hay harvest until July 15.
Grassland birds lack suitable native habitat, but they find refuge in hay fields. Delaying the hay cut gives ground-nesting birds like bobolink and eastern meadowlark time to nest and raise their young.
Agricultural lands are part of the solution to protecting and enhancing our natural heritage and increasing the populations of at-risk species.
Photo: Eastern meadowlark by John Carrel.
Thank you to all the participants of the Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program. Your unwavering commitment to delay hay harvest, forego top land rental payments and limit the potential for a second hay cut is truly a selfless act that betters the world.
Bird-friendly Hay by the Numbers
The 2022 season closed with 16 farmers growing 306 acres of Bird-Friendly Certified Hay on 19 properties. Many participants joined the program in its inaugural year and have been dedicated to protecting grassland birds ever since.
The program’s nine-year history demonstrates the long-term value in delaying the hay. Two statistics stand out:
- Observers have spotted 1,396 bobolink and eastern meadowlark using the hay fields as habitat.
- Monitoring has confirmed 212 pairs of grassland birds have nested in the fields.
Other Ways Farmers can Support Grassland Birds
Restoring native grasslands and growing warm-season grasses can improve forage opportunities on your farm while also creating habitat for birds and beneficial insects. The ALUS Peel Pilot can help Peel Region farmers with project funding and annual maintenance payments. Connect with a stewardship coordinator or visit birdfriendlyhay.ca to learn more.
Get involved: Want to learn more about growing Bird-Friendly Certified Hay? Connect with a stewardship coordinator to discuss ways you can get involved as a grower, landowner or hay buyer.
Your Countryside Stewardship Team