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Species at Risk

October 7, 2022

By Tys Theysmeyer, Head of Natural Areas, Royal Botanical Gardens

Did you know that Royal Botanical Gardens is home to over 50 different species at risk? We are home to insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, mammals, birds, and even plants and trees that have been identified as being species in need of protection. A lot of these species were at one time in abundance but due to varying threats like urbanization, habitat loss, encroachment of invasive species, and climate change, have made it to the species at risk list.

The team at RBG is hard at work educating people on threats to these species and what can be done to protect them. One of those species is the Blanding’s turtle which through the help of generous donors, we have been able to rescue hatchlings and send them off to a facility to grow bigger, stronger, and more viable. The first of these 2 year old hatchlings were released – into their habitat on RBG lands this year with a special tracker glued to the turtle’s shell, so we can continue to track their progress and help protect them.

In our Grasslands Restoration program, exciting work is taking place in our escarpment properties. We recently initiated restoration of 35 hectares of farm land back to a grassland ecosystem. It’s reverting these escarpment lands back to a natural state that will help create a safe habitat for wildlife, pollinators, and species at risk birds like the Bobolink.

The Bobolink is one of the many birds that depend on native grasslands for breeding. Their overall populations have been dwindling since the 1980s and none at RBG, but because of this project, four pairs of Bobolinks have already re-established and nested successfully in this new grassland habitat. 

  • Bobolink perched on a fencepost
  • Flowering Dogwoods
  • red headed woodpecker
  • Red Mulberry leaf variation

Left to right: Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), Flowering Dogwoods (Cornus florida), Red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

RBG also monitors and stewards a variety of endangered plants, like the Red Mulberry tree. Did you know that we have some of the last wild trees left in Canada? We are currently in the process of propagating some of these by cuttings. We hope to do more this year, but projects like this take years to accomplish.           

RBG’s over 1,100 hectares of land is home to three nature sanctuaries: the wetlands of Hendrie Valley, the Escarpment properties, and Cootes Paradise, our largest and most diverse habitat area, wrapping around the tip of Lake Ontario.  It’s vital lands like these that the Blanding’s turtle, the Bobolink and other species at risk need to thrive. We continue to remain committed to conservation projects restoring wetlands, grasslands and forest habitats; restoring natural ecosystems and creating safe habitats for species at risk.

Support Royal Botanical Gardens

Donate to the ongoing work of protecting species at risk.

If you choose to give $250 or more, we’ll include your name on a special plaque on display in our
Cootes Paradise nature sanctuary at the Sassafras Point Lookout!

If you choose to give $250 or more, we’ll include your name on a special plaque on display in our Cootes Paradise nature sanctuary at the Sassafras Point Lookout!

The following is an example list of species at risk seen at RBG within the last three years:


  • American Eel
  • Golden Eagle
  • Monarch
  • Lilliput
  • American Chestnut
  • American Columbo
  • Butternut
  • Eastern Flowering Dogwood
  • Few-flowered Club-rush
  • Red Mulberry
  • Blanding’s turtle


  • American White Pelican
  • Bank Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Black Ash
  • Bobolink
  • Canada Warbler
  • Chimney Swift
  • Common Nighthawk
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Eastern Whip-poor-will
  • Fern-leaved Yellow False Foxglove
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Least Bittern
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Wood Thrush

Species of Concern

  • Bald Eagle
  • Eastern Milksnake
  • Eastern Pondmussel
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Horned Grebe
  • Mapleleaf Mussel
  • Midland Painted Turtle
  • Northern Map Turtle
  • Peregrine Falcon (anatum/tundrius subspecies)
  • Rusty Blackbird
  • Snapping Turtle
  • Yellow-banded Bumblebee

More from the RBG Blog

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