Credit Valley Conservation’s (CVC) Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program marked its fourth year with 35 participants and almost 300 acres of hay certified as bird-friendly. The program aims to engage the rural community in the protection of grassland birds. In mid-June 133 bobolink were spotted in the hay fields, up from 57 in 2016. Twenty-one eastern meadowlark were spotted, up from nine in the previous year.
A recent report issued by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada noted that there was a 69 per cent decline in grassland birds nationwide. Grassland birds such as bobolink showed some of the sharpest drops. The main reason is grassland habitat loss. Hay fields have become the next best thing for threatened grassland birds.
“With grassland bird populations declining significantly in recent years due to the loss of natural grassland habitat, the Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program is making an impact in the recovery of grassland birds,” said Mike Puddister, Deputy CAO and Director of Watershed Transformation at CVC. “The program is an example of how we offer practical programs for the rural community.”
Farmers enrolled in the program agree to delay their hay harvest date until July 15 to protect grassland birds. Grassland birds such as eastern meadowlark and bobolink nest in hay fields. The program protects grassland birds by giving young birds time to leave the nest before the hay harvest.
“Farmers get access to more land to grow hay, rural landowners get a tax break and grassland birds have access to safe nesting habitat,” said Mark Eastman, CVC’s Agricultural Outreach Senior Coordinator.
Lester Hiraki, a rural landowner, rents land in Caledon to a farmer. “I love seeing wildlife on my property. The Bird-Friendly Certified Hay program allows me to give grassland birds a home during the breeding season and I get a tax break through the Farm Property Class Tax Rate Program,” said Hiraki.
Credit Valley Conservation is one of 36 conservation authorities in Ontario. Conservation authorities are provincial/municipal partnerships that manage the natural environment of a watershed, an area of land where the rain and snowmelt drain into a body of water. For more than 60 years, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) has worked with its partners to build a thriving environment that protects, connects and sustains us. CVC is a member of Conservation Ontario.
Specialist, Marketing & Communications
Credit Valley Conservation
905-670-1615 ext. 224