Aylmer Wildlife Management Area is located about 4 km northeast of the town of Aylmer in Elgin County, Ontario. It was purchased by the Province of Ontario in 1962 with the initial purpose of creating upland game habitat. Later the emphasis changed to developing habitat for waterfowl staging during spring and fall and to provide hunting and viewing opportunities.
Currently, the 210 hectare site is primarily managed to attract Tundra Swans. Part of the site is planted with lure crops to keep the swans and geese feeding on-site as opposed to neighbouring farms. About 20 hectares of the site has been excavated to create shallow, but varying depth artificial ponds. Conifers have been planted as windbreaks, and non-native shrubs have been planted in long hedgerows. Naturally regenerating willow, aspen, and elm occur primarily around the edges of these ponds. Up to 10 tonnes of corn (1993), and in some years wheat, are fed in spring to attract swans.
The Aylmer Wildlife Management regularly supports significant numbers of Tundra Swan during the spring migration period. Since 1980, one-day peak counts have ranged from as few as 500 to as many as 12,000 birds. Turnover rates at this site have not been determined so one-day peak counts represents the absolute minimum number of swans utilizing the site. Total numbers are likely much higher. Over the past five years (1992-98) the average peak one-day count at this site has been 2,900 Tundra swans. Based on recent population estimates, this represents over 1.5% of the estimated North American Tundra Swan population, and as much as 3.3% of the estimated eastern North American wintering population. Tundra Swans also utilize the site during the fall migration, but in much smaller numbers, with the one-day peaks rarely exceeding 500 birds.
In addition to swans, the site also attracts Canada Geese and small to moderate (for southwestern Ontario) numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds from mid-March through to December. Some recent peaks include: American Black Duck (100+), Green-winged Teal (100+), Least Sandpiper (150+), Semipalmated Sandpiper (225), American Golden Plover (150) and Killdeer (250). During the 1997 migration a total of 18 shorebird species were recorded.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There appear to be no direct conservation threats facing the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area. The site has always beena human-created wildlife management areas and is currently being actively managed to enhance the staging habitat and feeding opportunities for waterfowl and shorebirds. The goal of this management is to maintain and enhance open ?tundra-like? habitat primarily for Tundra Swans, but with the additional benefit of attracting waterfowl (primarily Canada Geese, Mallard, Black Ducks, and Green-winged Teal) and shorebirds. It is hoped that the large number of waterbirds will attract wildlife viewers and provide hunting opportunities. During the latter half of March, between 5,000 and 10,000 people visit the site to view the swans.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Aylmer Wildlife Management Area. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 03/12/2020.