Since 1984
  • CAROLINIAN CANADA

Species and Habitats

     
Rare Species and Ecosystems  

Wanted: Species at Risk

 

More than 500 species-at-risk share with us the Carolinian Life Zone in which we live. Landowners, hunters, fishers, bird watchers, hikers, naturalists and others can help conserve and protect our species-at-risk by being informed and reporting sightings to established Species-at-Risk Recovery Teams.

 

Species at risk factsheets will be made available for many of the counties in the Carolinian Canada lifezone in the coming months. Check back often for updates.

Download the full colour Species at Risk Wanted Poster for Essex County here (PDF 250KB) Download the full colour Species at Risk Wanted Poster for Norfolk County here (PDF 725KB)  
 

 

A list of all the species at risk in Carolinian Canada is available here. More information on Ontario species at risk is available at the bottom of this page.

Carolinian Species at Risk:
Barn Owl | Eastern Fox Snake | Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle | Grey Fox | Butternut | Hooded Warbler | Red-headed Woodpecker | American Chestnut | Milksnake | American Badger | Wood Poppy | Grey Ratsnake



Name: Barn Owl ( Tyto alba )

How to Identify

  • Golden-buff back, and creamy or white breast with dark spots
  • Dark eyes (no yellow) and no ear tufts

Did You Know? Barn Owls:

  • Hunt voles, mice and rats around farmsteads, and in pastures, hayfields and grasslands.
  • Will roost and nest in barns, silos, abandoned buildings, tree cavities and snags.  
  • Don't hoot, but instead emit hair-raising screeches
  • Are crepuscular, meaning they are active mainly at dusk and in the early evening hours.

Reasons for Population Decline

  • Loss of grassland habitat in southern Ontario
  • Predation of eggs and young by raccoons, cats and opossums
  • Cold winters with deep snow

How Can You Help?

  • Maintain and enhance grassland habitat on your property
  • Place a nest box in or on your barn or silo (see website below for more information)
  • Report any sightings to the Ontario Barn Owl Recovery Team by contacting:

Bernie Solymár
519-426-7124
solymar@nornet.on.ca
Check out the Project's website at:
www.bsc-eoc.org/regional/barnowl.htm

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Name: Eastern Fox Snake ( Elaphe gloydi )

How to Identify

  • Yellow-brown with large brown or black blotches on back that alternate with smaller blotches on sides Belly yellow with black checkerboard pattern
  • Large size,   adults are 91 – 137 cm long

Did You Know? Eastern fox snakes are:

  • Not venomous Feed mainly on mice and rats by constricting it's prey Ontario's second biggest snake, growing to over 1.5 metres
  • Found along shorelines (marshes and beaches), farmland, and woodlots. Also sometimes in hay lofts in barns.

Reason for Population Decline

  • Habitat loss
  • Persecution by humans

How Can You Help?

  • Conserve wetland habitat Appreciate snakes and don't harm them
  • Report any sightings to the Eastern Fox Snake Recovery Team by contacting:

Allen Woodliffe
519-354-4108
allen.woodliffe@ontario.ca
or  
Ron Gould
519-773-4745
ron.gould@ontario.ca

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Name: Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle ( Apalone spinifera )

How to Identify

  • The “pancake turtle” has a flat, round, leathery grey-brown shell and an elongated snout

Did You Know?

  • There are less than 2500 adult spiny softshell turtles left in Ontario? It's long snout allows the Spiny Softshell Turtle to breathe while almost fully submerged
  • Spiny Softshell Turtles ambush fish, crayfish and mussels by lying concealed in bottom mud

Reason for Population Decline

  • Habitat loss and degradation Contamination of water courses by agriculture and industry
  • Predation of eggs and young by raccoons and other predators

How Can You Help?

  • Protect open, sandy shorelines and river islands Avoid disturbing nest sites, young and adults
  • Report any sightings to the Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle Recovery Team:

Scott Gillingwater
519-519-495-0400
gillingwaters@thamesriver.on.ca

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Name: Grey Fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus )

How to Identify

  • About the size of a small dog and is grey, with a reddish chest and sides of the belly, and white underparts.
  • Black-tipped tail (Red Fox has a white-tipped tail).

Did You Know?

  • Grey Foxes can climb trees, almost as well as cats. Grey Foxes eat small mammals, birds and insects.
  • In the spring of 1999, a den with new-born Grey Fox kits was discovered on Pelee Island - the first documented birth of Grey Foxes in Ontario.

Reason for Population Decline

  • Unknown – Grey Foxes are found on Pelee Island, although there have been sighting occasionally on the mainland.

How Can You Help?

  • Report sightings to:

Allen Woodliffe
519-354-4108
allen.woodliffe@ontario.ca
or  
Ron Gould
519-773-4745
ron.gould@ontario.ca

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Name: Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
Endangered

How to Identify

The Butternut is a small to medium-sized tree with a broad crown.  Young trees have grey, smooth bark; mature trees have grey, flat-topped ridges in a diamond pattern.  The Butternut is recognizable by its large compound leaf, with 10 to 16 leaflets, and a large terminal leaflet, and by the fuzzy ‘moustache’ below each bud on the twig.

Did You Know?

  • The Butternut is a member of the Walnut family.
  • The nut of the Butternut tree is edible.
  • It needs full sun to regenerate and thrive.
  • The Forest Gene Conservation Association supports the Ontario Butternut Recovery Team. In the long term they hope to find genetically resistant butternut.

Reasons for Population Decline

  • A serious fungal disease called Butternut Canker infects most butternut in Ontario; increasingly causing early decline and mortality and reduced regeneration.

How Can You Help?

  • Conserve all live butternut; thin around them to increase their vigour and encourage seed production
  • Plant butternuts from vigorous, local trees in open areas and tend well
  • Report vigorously surviving trees – they are superior seed trees and possibly genetically resistant. Contact the Butternut Recovery Team - go to www.fgca.net or give your contact information to the Ontario Woodlot Association @ 1-888-791-1103  

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Name: Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina)
Threatened

How to Identify

  • Black hood of the adult male which sets off a striking yellow face
  • Distinctive “a-wheeta-wheeta-whee-tee-o” song

Did You Know?

  • “Hoodies” nest in canopy gaps and understory vegetation in the interior part of larger woodlots
  • Without interior forest or lack of openings, hooded warblers will abandon their nests
  • The Niagara area boasts the second largest population of hooded warblers in Canada

Reasons for Population Decline

  • Loss of interior forests

How Can You Help?

  • Enlarge your woodlot by retiring marginal lands around the perimeter
  • Create small openings in your woodlot to provide nesting habitat for “hoodies”
  • Report any sightings to the Acadian Flycatcher/Hooded Warbler Recovery Team by contacting:
    Debbie Badzinski @ 519-586-3531, extension 211

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Name: Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
Threatened

How to Identify

Adult birds have bright crimson heads. The breast and belly are white, and back is black with white patch on each wing.

Did You Know?

Red-headed Woodpeckers:

  • Eat mainly insects, sometimes catching them in flight, and supplement their diet with fruit, nuts, and even eggs of other birds.
  • Nest in cavities of dead and dying trees in open deciduous woods.
  • Can be spotted feeding on insects along roadsides and bird feeders

Reasons for Population Decline

Over the last decade, the Red-headed Woodpecker population has declined by about two-thirds in Ontario due to:

  • Habitat loss due to logging, firewood cutting, agriculture and dead-tree removal for esthetic purposes.
  • Competition from European Starling for cavity nest sites in trees.

How Can You Help?

  • If you own a woodlot leave snags and dying trees to provide nesting habitat.
  • Plant open meadow or tall grass prairie along wooded edges to provide foraging habitat
  • If you see this bird please contact: Jody Allair, Bird Studies Canada @ 519-586-3531 ext. 207, jallair@bsc-eoc.org

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Name: American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)
Endangered

How to Identify

The elongated leaves are dark green, shiny, and saw-toothed. Fragarent flowers appear in late June and early July. The sweet nut is covered by a spiny, urchin-like husk.

Did You Know?

  • Most of the surviving trees and suckers scattered over southern Ontario are on private land.
  • A multi-disciplinary recovery team, formed in 1988, is conducting research to identify blight-resistant individuals, collecting fruit, and carrying out artificial pollination of flowering trees.
  • The key to the recovery of this species may lie in the successful propagation and planting of disease-resistant stock.

Reasons for Population Decline

An epidemic caused by a type of non-native fungus called the Chestnut Blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) has virtually killed off all trees in Ontario over the last 100 years.

How Can You Help?

If you have specimens of American chestnut trees on your property and would like to protect them, please contact Greg Boland (519-824-4120), Co-Chair of the American Chestnut Recovery Team.

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Name: Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
Special Concern

How to Identify

The Milksnake can be tan, brown, or grey, with numerous black-bordered brown, copper, or red “saddles” down the back, alternating with smaller irregular blotches on the sides. The belly has a white and black checkerboard pattern. There is often a characteristic “Y”- or “V”-shaped, light-coloured patch on the back of the neck and head, but sometimes this is absent. Adult snakes are between 60 and 90 cm long.

Did You Know?

The Milksnake:

  • Captures mice, other small mammals and birds with its teeth, then subdues them before swallowing them whole by constricting them.
  • Is not venomous, but when surprised or threatened, it may raise its head in the air, vibrate its tail, and may attempt to bite.
  • May lay its eggs in a variety of locations, including compost or manure piles, stumps, under boards and stone piles, or in loose soil.

Reasons for Population Decline

  • Human persecution

How Can You Help?

  • Appreciate snakes and don’t kill them when you come across them
  • If you see this animal please contact: Karla Spence-Diermair, Royal Botanical Gardens, 905-527-1158, extension 519

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Name: American Badger (Taxidea taxus jacksoni)
Endangered

How to Identify

  • Grizzled gray colour, with bold black and white stripes on the head and face
  • Front paws are armed with extremely long, stout claws for digging
  • Body is stout and looks flattened

Did You Know?

Badgers:

  • Are nocturnal.
  • Dig burrows for their resting and nesting sites
  • Use their powerful claws to unearth their prey - groundhogs, chipmunks and voles.
  • Live in grassland habitats, and along agricultural fields and wooded edges
  • Norfolk is considered a last bastion for the American Badger in Ontario.

Reasons for Population Decline

  • Loss of grassland and edge habitat
  • Road mortality
  • Human persecution

How Can You Help?

  • Conserve grassland and edge habitat
  • Report any historical or recent badger sightings.
  • Let us know if you have a stuffed badger or a pelt (for genetic testing).
  • Contact a member of the American Badger Recovery Team:

    Mary Gartshore @ 519-586-3985, gartcar@kwic.com
    or
    Ron Gould @ 519-773-4745, ron.gould@ontario.ca

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Name: Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)

How to Identify

  • Hairy, deeply divided leaves and showy yellow flowers in May
  • Forms clumps or stands on the forest floor
  • Found in moist deciduous woods

Did You Know?

The Wood Poppy:

  • Blooms for a very short time in the Spring
  • Needs semi-shaded conditions so even selective logging can have negative impacts on populations if too much sun is allowed to penetrate to the forest floor.
  • In Ontario is only found in a few locations in Middlesex County

Reasons for Population Decline

  • Forest clearance was probably responsible for the loss of some stands of this species in Ontario.

How Can You Help?

  • If you find a stand of wood poppies on a hike note the location and contact Jane Bowles, Wood Poppy Recovery Team member at 519-661-2111, extension 86506 or arboretum@uwo.ca.

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photo credit: J. Powell



Name: Grey Ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta)
Threatened

How to Identify

  • Adults are shiny black, with a white chin and throat, while young snakes are grey with dark blotching on the body and tail.

Did You Know?

The Gray Ratsnake

  • Is Ontario's largest snake, attaining a length of 130 centimetres or more.
  • Is not venomous and constricts its prey, which consists mainly of mainly rats and mice
  • Is an excellent climbers and can sometimes be seen in trees hunting for birds egg
  • Overwinters in communal underground hibernacula with other snake species

Reasons for Population Decline

  • Habitat loss
  • Persecution by humans

How Can You Help?

  • Conserve edge habitats, particularly old fields next to deciduous forest
  • Appreciate snakes and don’t harm them
  • Report any sightings to the Eastern Ratsnake Recovery Team by contacting:

    Peter Carson @ 519-586-3985, gartcar@kwic.com
    or
    Ron Gould @ 519-773-4745, ron.gould@ontario.ca

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To learn more about Ontario's Species-at-Risk visit these websites:

Natural Heritage Information Centre: http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/nhic_.cfm

Royal Ontario Museum: http://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/speciesatrisk/

 

Carolinian Species at Risk
Other Rare Species
Rare Ecosystems in Carolinian Canada
Species at Risk Conservation Programs
 
 
   
   

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