The following birds are considered species at risk. If you see any species at risk, please Report your observations to HHLT, or directly to our project biologist, Paul Heaven, Glenside Ecological Services Ltd. Click here to download the Species at Risk Observation Summary Sheet and send it to us (see contact info) or send an email to Paul Heaven, email@example.com
The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is categorized as a species of Special Concern provincially and Not at Risk federally.
Persecution, habitat loss and pesticide use caused dramatic declines by the 1970s but thanks to a DDT ban and conservation efforts Bald Eagle populations have now increased four-fold across Ontario. This increase has been more notable in Northwestern Ontario.
Bald Eagle nesting sites are typically found within 350 m of large rivers and lakes with extensive shoreline and many large trees suitable for nesting. Nests can also be found on relatively undisturbed forested islands.
In Haliburton County, they utilize large White Pines for nesting and large old snags near their nests for perching. Large, contiguous areas of mixed coniferous and deciduous woods with open canopies are preferred upland habitat.
Human disturbances near their nests, including noise disturbances, are detrimental to reproductive success and shoreline development has resulted in the loss of suitable nesting and feeding habitat. In addition, the degradation of lakes due to acidification and the corresponding decline of prey fish species has kept their numbers from increasing significantly in this region. They are also at risk of being poisoned by mercury, lead, pesticide and toxic waste contamination of their ingested prey.
The Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia) is categorized as Threatened, nationally and provincially.
The Bank Swallow is the smallest swallow in the Americas and has a grey-brown head and upperparts, contrasting with darker brown flight feathers and white underparts. Separating the white underparts is a distinctive dark breast band.
Although it breeds throughout Ontario, there are notable gaps in its range on the Canadian Shield and in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Breeding in colonies, ranging from several pairs to a few thousand, the Bank Swallow utilizes vertical banks including riverbanks, lake bluffs, aggregate pits, roadcuts and stockpiles of soil for breeding sites. Breeding sites are often ephemeral due to bank erosion and soil sloughing.
This insectivorous songbird forages over open terrestrial habitats such as grasslands, meadows and pastures, as well as open aquatic habitats such as lakes, wetlands and rivers. The Bank Swallow is an aerial forager, consuming flies, ants, bees and wasps, beetles and bugs.
Declines in Bank Swallow populations are related to the cumulative impacts of multiple threats. Specific threats in the County of Haliburton include loss of breeding and foraging habitat, destruction of nests during aggregate extraction, and an overall decline in prey availability (likely related to pesticides).
The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is categorized as “threatened”, meaning the species lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it.
The Barn Swallow is a medium-sized songbird (about 15 to 18 centimetres long). Males have a glossy steel-blue back and upper wings, a rusty-red forehead and throat, a short bill and a broad blue breast band above its tawny underbelly. The male has long tail feathers which form a distinctive, deep fork and a line of white spots across the outer end of the upper tail. The female’s tail feathers are shorter, the blue of her upper parts and breast band are less glossy, and her underside is paler.
Barn Swallows often live in close association with humans, building their cup-shaped mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures such as open barns, under bridges and in culverts. The species is attracted to open structures that include ledges where they can build their nests, which are often re-used from year to year. They prefer unpainted, rough-cut wood, since the mud does not adhere as well to smooth surfaces.
Barn Swallows have experienced a significant decline since the mid-1980s. While there have been losses in the number of available nest sites, such as open barns, and in the amount of foraging habitat in open agricultural areas, the causes of the recent population decline are not well understood. This bird’s nests are often destroyed when old buildings in rural areas are demolished or fall down.
In addition, as farms modernize, many old barns that offered easy access are being replaced by large metal sheds with tight-fitting doors and no windows. Massive pesticide spraying of fields can also reduce the insect population barns swallows need for food.
The number of Barn Swallows in Ontario decreased by 65 percent between 1966 and 2009.
The Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) is categorized as Not at Risk nationally, and as a species of Special Concern provincially.
The Black Tern is a small tern with solid black on the head, breast and underparts; a tail and back that are medium grey; and a white lower belly and undertail.
The Black Tern is found scattered across the province with the highest densities along the lower Great Lakes coastlines, Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin Island and southern edge of the Canadian Shield. The Black Tern is a semi-colonial marsh nester typically occurring in groups of less than 20 pairs. Preferred breeding habitat of the Black Tern is limestone-based, rich, freshwater marsh habitat consisting of an equal mix of open water and emergent vegetation. Larger wetlands are optimal with a preference for wetlands in excess of 20 ha.
As most terns forage only on fish, the diet of the Black Tern is unusual as it includes invertebrates and fish, both of which are foraged while flying.
In Ontario, the loss of suitable wetland habitat for breeding is the primary threat to the Black Tern. Habitat loss includes direct wetland loss (filling or draining) but also the degradation of wetland habitat due to invasive species and climate change.
The Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) is categorized as Threatened both nationally and provincially.
In Ontario the breeding range of the Bobolink is restricted to central and southern Ontario. As a member of the grassland bird community, the natural habitat of the Bobolink is tall-grass prairie. Following European settlement much of this habitat was converted to cropland and the Bobolink now nests primarily in forage crops such as hayfields and pastures. The Bobolink feeds on a variety of insects, some of which would be considered agricultural pests.
Declines in the Bobolink’s distribution have been attributed to incidental mortality from agricultural operations, and habitat loss through the spread of urbanization into agricultural lands, intensification of agricultural practices and natural forest succession. In the County of Haliburton, agriculture has declined dramatically over the last 100 years and much of the farmland is reverting to forestlands through natural succession.
Where agriculture is in practice cutting of hayfields before the end of June has resulted in the loss of nests, eggs and nestlings. Other threats to the Bobolink include habitat fragmentation and nest predation, and pesticide use.
The Canada Warbler (Wilsonia canadensis) is categorized as Threatened nationally and a species of Special Concern provincially.
The breeding range of the Canada Warbler in Ontario is primarily in the Boreal Shield with the highest densities through the Southern Shield regions.
The preferred breeding habitat includes moist, mixed forests with a well-developed shrub layer. It favours thicket swamps, red maple swamps and conifer swamps dominated by Eastern White Cedar, Tamarack or Black Spruce. Forest stands regenerating after natural and human caused disturbances may also be used.
The Canada Warbler has shown dramatic declines in its population and with 8o% of its global breeding range occurring in Canada, Canadian conservation efforts will be critical for the Canada Warbler. Habitat loss and degradation in its wintering range in South America, and loss of swamp forests in its breeding range in Canada are thought to be the main reasons for the dramatic decline. In Canada the gradual drainage and development of swamp forests in the Southern Shield region may continue to contribute to the steady decline of the Canada Warbler. Other possible causes for the decline include degradation of the shrub layer by White-tailed Deer grazing and declines in insect outbreaks.
The Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) is categorized as Threatened both nationally and provincially.
In Canada, the Chimney Swift’s breeding range is primarily located east of Saskatchewan. Historically Chimney Swifts nested on cave walls and in hollow tree cavities in old growth forests. As hollow trees became scarce with extensive clearing of the land, these birds adapted and changed their habitat in urban areas to chimneys, old abandoned buildings and other man-made structures. Chimney swifts are often associated with bodies of water, where insects are abundant and they can forage on the wing.
The Chimney Swift mates for life and is monogamous. The nest is a small half saucer made of twigs and saliva attached to a vertical surface. The pair returns annually to the same site, typically with one pair to a chimney or hollow tree.
In Ontario the largest declines in Chimney Swift populations have occurred in the Southern Shield and Lake Simcoe regions. However, the County of Haliburton has maintained a population, possibly due to the presence of older forests. Loss of old growth forests and loss of suitable urban nest sites, through modern chimney construction and conversion to alternate forms of heating, are the main causes of the population decline. Other threats include a decline in abundance of their flying insect prey, severe weather events during breeding season, chimney sweeping and intolerance of nests by some building owners.
The Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is categorized as Threatened nationally and as a species of Special Concern provincially.
The breeding range of the Common Nighthawk extends from subarctic regions of Canada through to Central America. Their breeding habitat is varied and in the County of Haliburton would include recently burned-over areas, forest clearings, bogs, fens, marshes, lakeshores, riverbanks, rocky outcrops and rock barrens. They generally prefer natural sites although they have adapted to urban development by using areas such as flat gravel-covered roofs for nesting. In natural areas, they lay their eggs directly on the ground and one clutch is produced annually between late May and mid-August.
The Canadian population has shown broad scale decline and significant declines have also been reported in the Southern Shield Region in Ontario. The loss of natural breeding habitat may be the result of forest fire suppression, reforestation and natural forest succession. Loss of urban habitat, depredation by predators such as crows, ravens and cats and reductions in flying insect prey may also be some of the contributing factors to the population decline.
The Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) is categorized as Threatened, nationally and provincially.
The Eastern Meadowlarks is a medium-sized songbird with brown on the back, a bright yellow throat and belly, and a large black “V” on the chest.
In Ontario, the range of the Eastern Meadowlark extends throughout southern and central Ontario and north to Algoma, with most of the population found south of the Canadian Shield. The Eastern Meadowlark prefers open terrestrial habitats with tall grasses, abundant litter, low shrub and woody cover, and a minimum open area of 5 ha. Suitable habitats include native terrestrial grassland habitat, and non-native pastures, hayfields, old fields and meadows.
The Eastern Meadowlark forages on or near the ground and feeds mainly on insects and plant matter. Crickets and grasshoppers comprise much of their diet but they also feed preferably on caterpillars, cutworms, grubs and bird eggs.
The primary threat to the Eastern Meadowlark is habitat loss caused by conversion of forage crops to intensive grain and other row crops, reforestation, and urbanization. Other threats include intensification and modernization of agricultural techniques during nesting season, a high rate of nest predation, and overgrazing by livestock.
The Eastern Wood-pewee (Contopus virens) is categorized as a species of Special Concern nationally and provincially.
The Eastern Wood-pewee is a small forest bird that is greyish-olive on the upperparts and pale on the underparts. Typical of flycatchers, the Eastern Wood-pewee perches in the upright position.
In Ontario, the Eastern Wood-pewee breeds in southern and central Ontario, with most of the population occurring south of the Canadian Shield. The Eastern Wood-pewee prefers intermediate to mature deciduous and mixed forest stands, dominated by Sugar Maple, elm and oak, and with little understory vegetation. It is associated with the mid-canopy layer, and nest sites are often found near forest clearings and edges.
No studies on feeding behaviour have been conducted in Canada, but studies elsewhere in North America indicate the Eastern Wood-pewee feeds on a variety of small flying insects that are hawked in short flights from a perch in the subcanopy. Diet consists of insects such as flies, bugs, butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, beetles, crickets and grasshoppers, stoneflies, and damselflies.
Threats to the Eastern Wood-pewee are not well understood but may consist of habitat loss and degradation, and declining flying insect populations.
The Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) is categorized as a species of Special Concern nationally and provincially.
The Evening Grosbeak is a stocky songbird with a massive greenish-yellow bill, a dark brown head, yellow underparts and belly, and a black tail and wings. A brilliant supercilium (eyebrow) can be observed above the eye.
The Evening Grosbeak breeds across northern and central Ontario from the southern edge of the Canadian Shield to Moosonee, and has a habitat preference of open, mature mixed wood forests dominated by Balsam Fir and/or White Spruce.
During the breeding season the Evening Grosbeak feeds primarily on invertebrates, and especially the Spruce Budworm. Outside of the breeding season its diet shifts to fruits and seeds. The strong bill of the Evening Grosbeak can crack the stones of wild cherries, but other seeds include those of maple, pine, dogwood and juniper.
Threats to the Evening Grosbeak include reduced availability of mature and old-growth mixed wood and conifer forests; collisions with windows; and road mortality (while feeding on grit and salt).
The Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is categorized as Threatened nationally and a species of Special Concern provincially.
The breeding range in Ontario of the Golden-winged Warbler extends from extreme south-western Ontario north to Central Nipissing. The Golden-winged Warbler establishes territories of approximately 1-2 ha in size. Nest sites are on the ground in patches of herbs and low shrubs and foraging sites are typically scattered trees and forested edge. Territories in early stages of succession are preferable, specifically stands of northern hardwood <15 years of age. Examples of some preferred habitat include: hydro/utility corridors, field edges, recently logged areas and beaver marshes, and on the Boreal Shield, alder thickets with scattered Black Ash.
The Golden-winged Warbler is threatened by habitat loss, competition and hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers: a species that is spreading north due to habitat and climate change. In regard to habitat loss, the Golden-winged Warblers are dependent on early successional scrub habitat. This habitat is in decline in the County of Haliburton due to the natural regeneration of farmland established in the mid to late 1800s.
The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is categorized as Threatened, nationally and provincially.
The Least Bittern is North America’s smallest heron that is brown and buffy, with a contrasting back and crown that is glossy black in adult males but lighter in females. Buff wing patches distinguish the Least Bitter from all other marsh birds.
In Ontario, the Least Bittern breeds primarily south of the Canadian Shield, but has been documented breeding in the County of Haliburton. Habitat preferences consist of marsh wetlands dominated by cattails, with a high amount of interspersion of robust emergent vegetation and open water, and a minimum wetland size of 5 ha. Nests are typically located close to open water in a stand of robust emergent vegetation.
The diet of the Least Bittern has not been studied in detail but is thought to consist primarily of fish, snakes, frogs, tadpoles and salamanders. Occasionally the Least Bittern may also feed on small mammals, songbird eggs or nestlings, large insects, leeches, slugs, crayfish and some vegetation.
Habitat loss and degradation, regulated water levels, and invasive species are the primary threats to the Least Bittern.
The Olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) is categorized as Threatened nationally and a species of Special Concern provincially.
Approximately 54% of the Olive-sided Flycatcher’s breeding range occurs in Canada. The Olive-sided Flycatcher prefers habitat consisting of open areas in coniferous or mixed coniferous forests near wetlands. In the County of Haliburton, these open areas would include forest openings, forest edges near open wetlands, swamps dominated by spruce or tamarack, and burned forest clearings and cutovers. This species will use early successional forest although the presence of tall snags and residual forest are necessary for nesting and for foraging of flying insects. Their nests are predominantly found in Black Spruce, White Spruce, Jack Pine and Balsam Fir trees.
There has been a widespread and consistent decline over the last thirty years and the Canadian population is estimated to have declined by 79% from 1968 to 2006. Causes of their decline are unknown. Their continued population declines, despite apparent increases in suitable breeding habitat, may be due to lower reproductive success, increased depredation in harvested habitats, and to
The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) is categorized as a species of Special Concern nationally and Threatened provincially.
Peregrine Falcons inhabit a wide range of habitats but breed only in habitat with access to sufficient food supplies. In the County of Haliburton, prey would consist primarily of birds, particularly shorebirds, waterfowl and other water birds, pigeons and songbirds. Preferred nest sites are ledges or crevices found on cliffs ranging from 50-200 m high.
Peregrine Falcon populations suffered a DDT-induced collapse in North America in the 1950s and 1960s; however, surveys since the 1970s show substantial increases with notable increases between 2000 and 2005. Most Anatum Peregrine Falcon populations are now stable or increasing, although chemical pollution still remains a concern.
The Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is categorized as Endangered nationally, and a species of Special Concern provincially.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is a medium sized bird that is easily recognized by its crimson head, neck, throat and upper breast. Other features include white underparts, upper tail and rump; and black upperparts and lower tail.
The distribution of the Red-headed Woodpecker is continuous in southern Ontario, particularly south of Georgian Bay; however, is uncommon on the Canadian Shield. Breeding habitat of the Red-headed Woodpecker consists of mature lowland and upland deciduous forests with low canopy cover, an open understory, and large, tall trees especially of beech and oak. This woodpecker may also utilize a variety of sparsely treed habitat such as groves of dead and dying tree and agricultural landscapes. Nesting cavities are excavated in large diameter (>50cm) standing dead snags.
Although foraging varies by season, the Red-headed Woodpecker is omnivorous feeding primarily on insects, acorns and beech nuts, fruit, corn, and apples.
The primary threat to the Red-headed Woodpecker is tree diseases, such as Beech Bark Disease and Dutch Elm Disease. Emerald Ash Borer, and invasive insect, is another serious threat. These threats have reduced suitable nest site availability and the amount of available mast. Other threats include snag removal, declining insect populations and competition for nest cavities with non-native European Starlings.
The Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is categorized as a species of Special Concern nationally, and Not at Risk provincially.
The Rusty Blackbird is a medium-sized songbird that has relatively long, narrow pointed wings, a fine, slightly curved bill, pale yellow eyes, a black bill and black feet. During breeding season, the adult male is uniformly black with a faint greenish gloss on the body and slight violet gloss on the head and neck. Head, breast and back feathers fade to rust-colored in the fall. The female is brownish grey during breeding season and fading to rust-colored with a dark grey back, tail and wings.
In Ontario, the Rusty Blackbird is found from the Southern Shield north to the Hudson Bay Lowlands. The Rusty Blackbird breeds in coniferous dominated swamps, fens, bogs and beaver ponds and other wet openings in forests. Nests are typically found on the margins of wetlands and constructed in shrubs and small trees.
The Rusty Blackbird feeds mostly on invertebrates such as aquatic insect larvae, crustaceans and snails.
Although the most serious threats to the Rusty Blackbird are thought to occur on the wintering grounds in the southeastern U.S., there are threats on the breeding grounds in Ontario as well. Specifically, the contamination of wetlands, wetland acidification, and wetland degradation due to climate change may detrimentally impact the Rusty Blackbird.
The Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferous) is categorized as Threatened both nationally and provincially.
In Ontario, the breeding range is confined to southern and south-central Ontario. Whip-poor-will breeding habitat is dependent on the forest structure rather than the type of trees in the forest. Whip-poor-wills will avoid both wide-open spaces and dense forest. In Haliburton preferred nesting habitat includes rocky barrens, early to mid-successional forests, old burns or other disturbed sites, and open conifer plantations. Eggs are laid directly on leaf litter and clutches are laid between mid-May and June in Ontario.
Whip-poor-wills are nocturnal and most active on bright moonlit nights when they can be heard singing their name often in long seemingly endless series. The Canadian population has shown broad-scale decline and in Ontario populations appear to have disappeared from large sections. Forest fire suppression and the natural succession of forests have likely reduced breeding habitat.
Declines may also be attributable to long-term, widespread changes in habitat resulting from intensive agriculture. Land development near breeding sites has also been shown to negatively affect breeding success. As with other aerial foraging species, reductions in insect abundance may be a factor in their dramatic decline.
Check out this video on the Whip-poor-will.
The Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) is categorized as Threatened nationally, and a species of Special Concern provincially.
The Wood Thrush is a medium sized neotropical migrant that is rusty-brown on the crown and nape, fading to olive-brown on the back, wings and tail. It has white underparts and large blackish spots on the breast, sides, and flanks.
The Wood Thrush breeds throughout southern Ontario and north continuously to Georgian Bay and Eastern Lake Superior; and locally north to the Timiskaming District. Breeding habitat consists of second growth and mature deciduous and mixed forests with saplings and a well-developed understory layer. Nests are constructed in living saplings, trees or shrubs, and usually in Sugar Maple or American Beech.
The Wood Thrush forages in leaf litter and on semi-bare ground, in search of larval and adult insects, millipedes and isopods.
The primary threats to the Wood Thrush include habitat degradation and fragmentation due to development and over-browsing by White-tailed Deer; and high rates of nest predation and Brown-headed Cowbird nest parasitism.