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By Ian Fife, Forest Birds at Risk Coordinator, Bird Studies Canada

Louisiana Waterthrush Photo: Joe Stephenson

Want to learn about efforts to help species at risk in Ontario’s Carolinian forests? In a newly published report, you can discover what Bird Studies Canada is learning about these precious species and how landowners are working with us to conserve them through our Ontario Forest Birds at Risk Program (OFBAR).
This program is dedicated to helping Threatened and Endangered birds in southern Ontario. Many bird species in this area are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation as well as climate change.
The OFBAR Program focuses on four high priority species at risk: Louisiana Waterthrush (Threatened), Acadian Flycatcher (Endangered), Cerulean Warbler (Endangered), and Prothonotary Warbler (Endangered). It was developed in 2011 with these objectives:

  • Identify and monitor sites through occupancy surveys throughout southwestern Ontario;
  • Identify and develop a plan to mitigate forest health threats, such as invasive species; and
  • Engage private and public landowners and managers in stewardship initiatives for target species at risk.

Here are some progress highlights from 2017, included in the report:

  • Technicians identified and monitored 88 Acadian Flycatchers, 35 Louisiana Waterthrush, 22 Cerulean Warblers, and 22 Prothonotary Warblers.
  • We initiated a Cerulean Warbler habitat study to develop management plans, which will help private and public landowners address the habitat needs for this endangered species.
  • We determined that Cerulean Warblers prefer oak and soft maple tree species and increased forest cover under 6 m.
  • Emerald Ash Borer and Beech Bark disease were found at a large majority of the sites; however, there was no indication of Hemlock woolly adelgid or oak wilt during our surveys in 2017.

Landowners have been stepping up to provide valuable support to the OFBAR Program’s goals. Landowner stewardship initiatives have varied from completing surveys and discussing species at risk on their property to developing a first-edition guide on Beneficial Management Practices for Southwestern Ontario’s Forest Birds at Risk. The guide was delivered to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resource and Forestry’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program coordinator and uploaded to the Ontario Woodlot Association’s (OWA) website. It was also featured in their quarterly magazine, S&W Report. We were excited to have the opportunity to share the guide at key public outreach events, including presentations at various southern Ontario OWA annual meetings.
You can learn more about the OFBAR Program on the program website or by reading the current report. Stay tuned to Bird Studies Canada’s enews for future updates on the program!
Support for Bird Studies Canada’s OFBAR Program is provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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