Natural Heritage

Wetland Ecology

The Minesing Wetlands encompass a diverse array of wetland communities!  Deciduous forest swamps, marshes and thicket swamps line the rich floodplains of the Nottawasaga River, Mad River and Willow Creek Levees along the river systems support Carolinian forest communities typically found hundreds of kilometres south of Minesing.  To the southeast, groundwater-fed boreal (coniferous) swamps and fens – more typical of northern Ontario – extend outward from the base of the Algonquin bluffs.

Naturally, these diverse communities support a rich variety of wildlife!  Over 221 bird species have been recorded, of which 135 are believed to nest within the wetlands each year.  Extensive spring flooding in the floodplain swamps, marshes and thickets provides provincially significant stopover habitat for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds such as Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveller, Northern Pintail and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.   Wood Duck, Mallard, Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan and Sandhill Crane are among those that stay to breed in Minesing Wetlands.

The spring season also bring the Great Blue Heron back to one of the oldest colonies in Ontario.  The extent and location of these colonies shift over the years – currently it is at a low ebb but we are hopeful the colony will grow in the future!

The extensive boreal and floodplain forests support a number of bird species that require deep forests for nesting.  The buzzy trill of the Cerulean Warbler (Threatened) haunts the Silver Maple swamps along the Nottawasaga River.  The quick burble of the Canada Warbler (Special Concern) brightens the gloom of the boreal swamp.

The vast marshes along Willow Creek and bordering the Mad River support large numbers of marsh birds. The deep, booming “oong-KA-chunk” of the American Bittern resonates across the marshes while the more retiring (and Threatened) Least Bittern hoots softly in the background.  Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron and Great Egret – some flying in all the way from nesting colonies off the Collingwood shoreline – forage for frogs and fish.  Minesing Wetlands has hosted a nesting pair of Bald Eagle since 2005 – adults and juveniles are often observed majestically soaring over the marshes.

Not to be outdone, the Minesing Wetlands provides habitat for an impressive array of reptiles and amphibians.  Turtle species are often observed basking on logs or even nesting along trails and road shoulders.  Spring Peeper and Wood Frog are in full chorus in the early spring while the mid-spring chorus of Leopard Frog can be unrelenting in the Minesing marshes. Green Frog join the cacophony by late spring!

This vast wetland is home to 23 species of mammals. Beaver, Muskrat, Porcupine, Coyote, Raccoon, River Otter and White-tailed Deer Hare are commonly observed.  Black Bear and Moose have been known to visit and the Opossum is starting to frequent the area.  The Minesing Wetlands supports one of the largest White-tailed Deer yards in the region with a population estimated at upwards of 300 to 400 individuals during the winter months.

Thirty species of fish utilize the waterways of the Minesing Wetlands. Northern Pike are present year-round while Lake Sturgeon (Threatened) and Rainbow Trout move through wetlands on their way to upstream spawning grounds each spring.  Similarly, Chinook Salmon pass through the wetlands each fall.  The Nottawasaga River supports one of the last healthy populations of Lake Sturgeon in the Lake Huron/Georgian Bay basin!  The wetlands is also one of only two known locations in North America where Walleye spawn on submerged vegetation.

The diverse wetland communities provide habitat for a rich variety of Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) and butterflies.  Monarchs (Special Concern) frequent the meadow marshes and fields. The Minesing Wetlands hosts the Hine’s Emerald (Endangered) – the only known Canadian location for this globally endangered dragonfly!

The Minesing Wetlands is host to a wonderful diversity of plants and wildlife that should be treasured and respected for its biodiversity, which we can appreciate by visiting, and other values that benefit people such as flood protection, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration.  The Friends of Minesing Wetlands encourages  visitors to “leave no trace” and “take only pictures”.