The law

Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered or threatened species — animals and plants that are in decline and disappearing from the province.

Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark are birds that are threatened species.

You either need a permit or to follow certain rules if you want to develop land and it will damage or destroy the habitat of these birds.

You don't need a permit if you plan to develop up to 30 hectares of land, but you need to follow certain rules.

This applies to developing land, such as:

  • constructing buildings
  • building roads or other infrastructure
  • excavating and landscaping

Different rules apply to some forms of development:

  • approved under provincial planning laws and
  • covered under section 23.2 of Ontario Regulation 242/08

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

  • Endangered Species Act, 2007
  • Ontario Regulation 242/08 (general)

Migratory birds

Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark are migratory birds. Additional rules apply to migratory birds, which are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act (a federal law).

Contact Environment Canada for more information about rules covering migratory birds.

Environment Canada – migratory bird regulations

The rules

You must:

  • register the work and the affected species with the Ministry of Natural Resources (before work begins)
  • prepare and follow a habitat management plan
  • create or enhance habitat, and manage that habitat
  • provide a written commitment (also called an undertaking) to the Ministry of Natural Resources that says you will manage the habitat over time
  • minimize effects to the protected species (e.g. put access roads outside the habitat)
  • avoid activities that are likely to affect habitat or the birds between May 1 – July 31 (e.g. do not excavate land or plough fields during this time)
  • prepare and maintain records that relate to the work and the habitat
  • report sightings of rare species (and update registration documents, if needed)

How to register

Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide

  • print a copy or
  • open the guide in a new window or tab

Natural Resources Registration Guide

Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile

You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.

Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:

  • business profile to register business activities if you are a(n):
    • business
    • non-profit organization
    • municipality
    • government agency
    • ministry
    • authorized representative registering activities on behalf of any of the above.
  • an individual profile to register non-business activities

Open a new window or tab to:

Create a business profile
Create an individual profile

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

  • sign in to ONe-key
  • confirm your Natural Resources profile

Open a new window or tab to:

Sign in as a returning business
Sign in as a returning individual

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
    • if you are an authorized representative, identify the business you are representing
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Activity and Other Notices under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from the registry options
  • select Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark – Activities impacting 30 hectares or less of habitat
  • register the activity
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Receive confirmation

  • receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
    • By law, the regulation requires you to keep contact information up-to-date should the Ministry need to contact you
    • By law, the regulation requires you to submit requested documents within 14 days of a request from the Ministry using the contact information you provide
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

If you need assistance to register your activity, please call 1-800-387-7011.

If you can't apply online:

  • download the registration form and user guide
  • print, complete and mail the form
  • wait for confirmation

Notice of Activity Form Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark - Activities impacting 30 hectares or less of habitat

Habitat management plans

A habitat management plan must be prepared by an expert with knowledge of the species on your land.

The plan must describe:

  • the activity — with the proposed start dates
  • the habitat that will be affected and created or enhanced, including:
    • a map or maps
    • where activities will take place (the ecoregion)
    • the size of the areas
  • how you will create or enhance new habitat and manage it

When to prepare a plan: before activities begin.

You must keep your plan for 5 years after development is complete — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry within 14 days, if asked.

Create and enhance habitat

When you create or enhance habitat for the Eastern Meadowlark or Bobolink, you must:

  • locate it
    • outside of the area you're developing
    • within the ecoregion you're developing, or an adjacent ecoregion
  • ensure that the new habitat is larger than the previous one
    • each parcel of land needs to be more than 4 hectares
  • ensure that the new habitat is at least 200 metres wide
  • cover 60-80% of the habitat with at least 3 species of grass (1 species must grow higher than 50 cm)
  • plant forbs (types of flowering plants that are not grasses) or legumes in areas not covered by grass

This habitat work must be complete within 12 months of the date development begins.

Manage new habitat

You must manage the new or enhanced habitat for at least 5 years:

  • maintain the grasses, forbs and legumes in the correct amounts
  • remove woody vegetation and invasive species
  • avoid harvesting, mowing, cutting or using more than half of the habitat for grazing between April 1-July 31 of any year

Written undertaking

You must also commit in writing to manage the habitat until whatever date comes first:

  • 20 years from when you first created or enhanced habitat
  • the day the affected habitat is restored and suitable to be used again by the birds

You need to submit this to the Ministry of Natural Resources, before development begins.

Monitoring

You must:

  • monitor new or enhanced habitat for 5 years
  • conduct at least 3 surveys every year when the birds are likely there (in most areas of Ontario, this is usually between May 1-July 15)

Reporting process

You must prepare and maintain a record that:

  • describes the steps you took to minimize effects on the birds
  • describes how you created or enhanced and managed habitat
  • includes photographs of the new habitat
  • provides data and information collected during monitoring
  • details any encounters with the species

You must keep your record until December 31 of the year you complete your monitoring — and give a copy to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, if asked.

When you need a permit

You could still need a permit if development:

  • affects more than 30 hectares of habitat
  • could also affect species other than Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark

To apply for a permit, contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestryoffice.

Find an MNRF district office

Identify a species at risk

If you are unsure about a certain species — and would like help identifying or confirming what it is — you can see photos and get more information on the Endangered Species website.

Get more details about a species

Updated: July 09, 2021
Published: June 13, 2013