Colony Farm Regional Park contains several important habitat types, including old fields, wetlands, and hedgerows.
Old fields are long-term fallow fields. They replace historic open grassland and estuarine habitats that support grassland-dependent raptors and overwintering Great Blue Herons. These birds hunt small mammals such as Townsend’s Voles as a primary food source.
Colony Farm is one of largest protected areas of this regionally rare habitat type in Metro Vancouver.
What is a wetland?
Wetlands are… wet areas – they are defined by a water table close to the surface. This leads to waterlogged soils that are anaerobic, and support unique vegetation communities.
Why care about wetlands?
Wetlands provide important ecosystem services:
- They provide clean water, filtering sediment, toxins, and pollutants.
- They act like sponges, absorbing and slowly releasing rain water and preventing flooding.
- They can become carbon sinks, sequestering organic matter and reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.
Wetlands support a high diversity of wildlife and plants, including many unique and rare species. Species at risk using the wetlands at Colony Farm include Great Blue Herons, Western Painted Turtles, Red-legged Frog, and American Bittern.
Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems, supporting an abundance of life. They are home to native marsh birds, amphibians, and waterfowl. The insects that complete their larval stages in the wetlands emerge to support populations of aerial insectivores like swallows and bats.
At Colony Farm, sloughs and channels with connections to the Coquitlam river provide off-channel habitat for juvenile salmonids to mature before heading out to the ocean.
All this wetland wildlife can be enjoyed by park users!
Great Blue Heron, Sora, (Photo: John & Sheila Lin), Hooded Mergansers (Lee Harding).
Why build a wetland
Canada is home to 25% of the world’s wetlands. In settled areas over 70% of wetlands have been lost to agriculture and development. Given all their benefits, building wetlands is a great way to enhance habitat value.
Colony Farm has several constructed wetlands – the Ducks Unlimited pond on the east side of the park (pictured above), and 3 wetlands along the Sheep Paddocks Trail.
Hedgerows and Thickets
Agricultural hedgerows and riparian thickets provide important cover for wildlife.
They are especially important to migrating birds, as they stop over and replenish their energy stores, and juvenile birds as they fledge and develop their solo survival skills.
In the park, berry-producing shrubs like Red Elderberry are food for many birds, including flocks of band-tailed pigeons.