The Rouge Park is like a "Noah's Ark" of habitat for approximately 100 regionally rare species and more than a dozen species of national concern.
Nationally rare, endangered and vulnerable species are listed by the committee on the status of endangered wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC. Many rare species have been recorded in the Rouge Park including:
Rare Wild Lupine being visited
by a bumble bee.
Viceroy butterflies (Monarch
mimics) feeding on nectar of
dense blazing stars planted
- red shouldered hawk;
- peregrine falcon;
- American ginseng;
- red-headed wood-pecker;
- red-side dace;
- eastern loggerhead shrike;
- barn owl;
- northern bobwhite;
- trumpeter swan;
- American chestnut;
- dense blazing star, and
- Monarch butterfly.
By enlarging existing core forests and Nature Reserves (ESAs), FRW is increasing habitat for deep forest species such as red-shouldered hawk, oven bird, scarlett tanager and American ginseng.
By planting wildflowers and meadow areas, FRW is creating habitat for northern bobwhite, eastern meadowlark, grasshopper sparrow and Monarch butterfly. Since agricultural pesticides will no longer be used on these meadow lands, these species have a better chance to thrive and reproduce.
By creating log piles, tall snags with nesting holes and meadows with abundant insect life, FRW is increasing habitat for red-headed wood peckers.
By planting meadows with scatttered native hawthorns and shrubs and improving habitat for gasshoppers, frogs, small snakes and mammals, FRW is increasing habitat for the eastern loggerhead shrike. Go to www.shrike.ca for more information on this species.
The amazing migration of the Monarch butterfly from Canada to the mountains of Mexico was charted by University of Toronto professor Fred Urqhart (now deceased) and his wife. Unfortunately, the Monarch's over-wintering habitat in Mexico has been cut in half by outlaw logging; modern pesticides have reduced the Monarch's larval host plant - milkweed; and a freakish winter storm in January 2002 (climate change?) wiped out 500 million Monarchs in Mexico.
Monarch populations were very low in the Rouge in the summer of 2003 and few larva were found on local milkweed plants. To help provide local habitat for Monarch butterflies, FRW collects more than 10 kg of milkweed seed each year for planting on Rouge restoration sites.
FRW has also successfully planted and collected seed from rare species such as blue lupine. The blue lupine is the host plant for the Karner blue butterfly, which was extirpated from Ontario a few years ago and is now an endangered species in the United States.
Rare Trumpeter swans use an FRW
created pond in October, 2003.
FRW plants a number of rare species including:
- American Chestnut;
- American ginseng;
- Wild Blue Lupine;
- Dense blazing star;
Signs of Recovery
- Red-shouldered hawks nested near one of FRW's planting sites in 2002;
- American chestnut, wild lupine and dense blazing star are growing at several Rouge sites;
- FRW’s riparian plantings and blockage of weeping tiles are reducing peak flows and erosion, and increasing water infiltration and base flow to improve water quality and habitat for species such as red side dace and re-introduced Atlantic salmon;
- A Red headed wood-pecker was sighted (April 2003) at the Barkey Creek restoration site.
Feed-back from Biologists
“There is no doubt that your restoration programme has increased suitable habitat, linked source populations, increased species abundance .... and breeding habitat for amphibians and reptiles ....”
“FRW restoration efforts are significantly expanding and enhancing habitat opportunities for many local butterflies, moths and insects, including regionally rare species .....”
Bob Johnson, Toronto Zoo, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles
Tom Mason, Toronto Zoo, Curator of Invertebrates