This page provides additional resources for OSCIA’s Species at Risk (SAR) program applicants who wish to complete on-farm habitat enhancement or restoration projects in support of SAR. This is not an exhaustive list of resources and it doesn’t necessarily mean they are all supported projects. This list is intended to provide more information for those who are interested. More information on species at risk is available on the Species at Risk in Ontario website.
Species Specific Habitat Enhancements
Bat Houses and Bat Roosts
There are three species of endangered bats in Ontario: the eastern small-footed bat, the little brown bat, and the northern long-eared bat. Habitat loss and a disease known as white nose syndrome threaten these bats. You can help by building bat houses and/or simple bat roosts that can be used for day or night roosts.
- Putting Up a Bat House: Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) outlines one way to construction and install a bat house.
- Create a Simple Bat Roost: CWF outlines an easy way to create a bat roost.
Nesting Structures for Birds
Help support at-risk birds by building nest boxes on your property. Remember that not all bird species will nest in boxes and that cost-share programs are intended to support SAR. Consider also that some invasive or pest species will nest in boxes if they are not made to the proper specifications. General features of a good nest box can be found on NestWatch.
This relatively small owl lives in southern Ontario, where it hunts in grasslands, old fields, and field edges and lives in barns or abandoned buildings. You can help by building a barn owl nest box on your property. Visit Bird Studies Canada to get involved in the Ontario Barn Owl Recovery Project.
The barn swallow does not nest in boxes, but they will use nesting shelves mounted in trees or in the eaves of your homes or human-made structures. Hinterland’s Who’s Who has guidelines on how to build your own nesting shelf for barn swallows.
Widespread but rare in Ontario, the red-headed woodpecker lives in open woodland and woodland edges. The CWF has created some useful guidelines on how to build a nest box for the red-headed woodpecker.
Learn how you can help by visiting the Carolinian Canada webpage or Bird Studies Canada. NestWatch has created guidelines on building an appropriately sized nest box for the prothonotary warbler.
Before European settlement, chimney swifts nested mainly on cave walls and in hollow trees. Today, they are often found in chimneys and other human-made structures. One way to get involved in chimney swift monitoring is through Ontario SwiftWatch, a Bird Studies Canada project. Learn about building your own chimney swift tower for nesting.
Note: There are regulations you must follow if you wish to modify a chimney or structure that is already habitat for a chimney swift. More information on modifying a chimney is available.
Winter Bird Roosts
Many species of overwintering birds wait out stormy weather inside hollow tree trunks and snags. However, it may be hard for birds to find decent roosting spots. Build a winter bird roost to help shelter birds, consider the guidelines from CWF.
Support native pollinators and plants (especially those at risk), by leaving hedgerows and natural places on your farm intact, planting nectar-rich plants (including beneficial crops and cover crops), and establishing suitable nesting sites on your land. Additional resources can be found here:
In-stream Brush Bundles for Fish
In-stream cover is important for fish species of all sizes, including an endangered minnow, the redside dace. Placing brush bundles in streams provides an effective source of cover while also stabilizing stream banks. More information is available through the CWF, but you may need to consult with your Conservation Authority or a qualified biologist on the exact design.
Brush, Rock, and Log Piles
Information on how to make a snake den for hibernation can be found on the Toronto Zoo and the Long Point Basin Land Trust. A simple overview is available through the CWF, and a Quick Guide to Helping Reptiles and Amphibians is available from Scales Nature Park.
Turtle Nest Site Construction
Information on ways to improve turtle habitat on your property – including construction of a turtle nest site – is available through the Toronto Zoo, with additional information available on nest site construction. It is suggested that you obtain help and advice from a biologist or other qualified third party if completing this project. “Stewardship of the Spiny Softshell Turtle” is a resource for landowners that covers all Ontario turtle species, it is a print-only publication available through the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.
Creating or Enhancing Natural Corridors to Connect Fragmented Habitat for Plants and Wildlife
Resources for consideration:
Controlling Invasive Alien Plants
The Invasive Plant Council’s BMP library provides guidelines for removal of a large number of plant species invasive and alien to Ontario. More information about invasive plant species can be found from the Ontario Invasive Plants Council.
Note: Mulching of woody plants in pastures must occur after August 1 to remove risk to ground nesting grassland birds.
Native Grassland Planting
Resources for consideration:
- Planting the Seed: Establishing Prairie and Meadow Communities in Southern Ontario by Tallgrass Ontario and Environment Canada
- A Stewardship Guide to Grasslands in Southern Ontario: An Introduction for Farmers and Rural Landowners from the Ontario Barn Owl Recovery Project
- A Landowner’s Guide to Tallgrass Prairie and Savanna Management in Ontario from Tallgrass Ontario
Native Plant Nurseries and Seed Suppliers
Credit Valley Conservation produced a booklet showing nurseries and seed suppliers for native species, making it an excellent resource for tree planting, buffer strips, wetland restoration, and grassland planting. A chart depicts what they carry, from plants, seeds, trees and aquatic species. This booklet can be printed out or saved on a computer.