Restoring Grassland Bird Habitat

In 2013, we started restoring grassland habitat at Upper Credit Conservation Area. A 7.5 hectare former farm field became overgrown with non-native and invasive plants. It’s being transformed into a thriving grassland with native plants and grasses. It will provide critical habitat for species at-risk such as eastern meadowlark, bobolink and grasshopper sparrow.

The Restoration Process

There are several stages in grassland restoration that take many years. The restoration includes the following steps:

The first step is to inventory the plants, animals and insects living in the field at Upper Credit Conservation Area. Students from the University of Toronto Mississauga helped us conduct monitoring studies and collect data. This information provides a baseline to assess how habitat quality improves over time and what wildlife are using the restored grassland.

We prepared the site by removing trees and shrubs and took steps to control the growth of unwanted plants such as invasive species.

We planted a cover crop of soybeans. Cover crops help prepare the soil by adding nutrients and prevent unwanted plants from growing.

We planted a mix of native flowers and grasses by spreading seed and rolling it into the soil. Some species we planted include:

  • Big bluestem
  • Little bluestem
  • Virginia and Canada wild ryes
  • Indiangrass
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Evening primrose
  • Wild bergamot
  • Showy ticktrefoil
  • And more

We set a controlled burn in April 2021 to protect and enhance the established grassland. Controlled burns are carefully set and managed fires. They help restore, maintain and protect grassland habitat by mimicking natural wildfires that grasslands have evolved to respond to.

The fire removes non-native plants and promotes the continued growth of native grassland species.

Read frequently asked questions about controlled burns.

Photo Gallery

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