There’s a lot more than meets the eye when visiting K2 Wind near Lucknow, Ontario. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but the facility is protecting a natural habitat for threatened native bird species.
The bobolink: a native bird under threat
The bobolink is a beautiful songbird that can be found throughout Ontario, especially in the southern areas of the province. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the bobolink has one of the longest migrations of any songbird in North America. These mighty little birds can travel over 12,000 miles round trip, moving between their winter homes in South America and their spring and summer breeding territories.
A close relative of blackbirds and orioles, male bobolinks in breeding season have striking yellow patches on the backs of their heads and silvery-white plumage along their backs. You can learn more about the bobolink by clicking here.
Unfortunately, the bobolink population has been in sharp decline in recent decades. In 2010, the bobolink was designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The reasons for the population’s decline aren’t entirely understood, but loss of habitat and disruption of nesting sites are probably playing a role.
Making space for the bobolink
The team at K2 Wind is working to reverse the bobolink’s downward trajectory.
Robin Maxwell, Facility Manager at K2 Wind, says that the facility has purchased or leased a total of 60 hectares of land that is maintained for the bobolinks.
“Here at K2 Wind, we have a bobolink habitat,” Maxwell says. “The bobolink is a little bird that lives in a pasture, but because fields are getting bigger and there isn’t as much pasture anymore, their habitats disappear.”
The hope is that this modest effort to set aside land will provide bobolinks with an undisturbed area to hatch and raise their young. It’s going to be exciting to see new generations of birds take flight each year from their protected spaces.
Stop on by the barn swallow hotel
Boblinks aren’t the only threatened bird species the team at K2 Wind is thinking about. They’ve also got a soft spot for the barn swallow.
As its name suggests, the barn swallow loves to nest in barns and other human-made structures. As building practices have changed, their preferred spots for nesting have gradually disappeared.
“Because there aren’t as many barns around anymore, barn swallows have lost their homes,” Maxwell explains. “Old barns that have stood for 150 years or more have been torn down as farms get bigger. We put up a barn swallow hotel that holds about 90 pairs of barn swallows. The structure is basically a roof on stilts, but it gives the barn swallows a safe, barn-like structure to live in.”
If you’re ever passing by the facility, be on the lookout for our hotel!
Strengthening the local ecology
K2 Wind is proud to be a small part of local efforts to support Ontario’s wildlife. It’s an effort that can take many years, but the end result will be a healthier environment for everyone. We think the bobolinks and barn swallows would agree!