Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf

Exciting news! We are pursuing designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

We are working towards meeting key environmental components set out by the program and promoting environmental sustainability.


Join us here and on social media to follow our progress as we spotlight and share the history and science of the flora and fauna in our pocket of urban green space.
Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) are frequently spotted near our upper terrace—no doubt, to catch the on-course action. We’re happy to see them at the club. Did you know that barn swallows are listed as “threatened” under Ontario's Species at Risk, which protects both the bird and its habitat? In Ontario, there has been a long-term rate of decline in their population due to a number of factors, including changes in foraging and nesting habitats.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are not uncommon on the course, and this particular one was spotted this season quietly going about its way. Walking and ignoring people is normal urban coyote behaviour, as this one did shortly before slipping shrubs along Mimico Creek.
One of the most common hawk species in North America, red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) are often spotted circling above the course or perched high up in trees or, in this instance, striking a pose on hole #4. If you’re an avid bird-watcher, the best time of year to spot these migrating raptors over Toronto is between early September and the end of October. (Source:
The blue berries of Silky Dogwood (Cornus obliqua) is a great species for naturalizing borders and stabilizing slopes. It's showy and a favorite of pollinators and wildlife, like the Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Northern Cardinals we see around the course.
Common in North America, the twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella) dragonfly has nearly 360-degree vision and can be seen near water habitats, like this one photographed on #11 near the creek.
New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is a native Ontario wildflower and pollinator powerhouse, serving as the host plant for several butterfly species. They are sprinkled around the course, including next to our #15 green.
Not always easy to spot because of their preference for foraging low in the understory, warblers magnolia warblers (Setophaga magnolia) was spotted in just such an area off our #11 fairway.
The course is home to several woodpecker species, and the longer chisel-like bill made for an easy bird ID on this day. Hairy woodpeckers sometimes feed at the base of trees and along fallen logs, like this female was doing on the edge of hole #11, where we leave an undisturbed understory for wildlife.
Do you see it? Clutching to a stem amongst the wildflowers by the 18th green is an American goldfinch (Spinus tristis). This species is often seen flying with a fast bouncy pattern across the 10th and 18th fairways.
In the photo background is the Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) along the #10 tee lower deck. It is an important shrub for pollinators and its berries serve as a food source for songbirds.
One of the wonderful positive impacts from building our reservoir, Appleby Pond, is the creation of new habitat for new course residents like this native Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata), spotted heading in the direction of our pond. Photo credit: R. McCaw

About the Project

Picture 140 acres of urban green space tucked into Mimico Creek watershed. A place with 2000+ trees and native shrubs and wildflowers. A place that supports a diversity of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, both resident and migratory. A place where you can spot red-tailed hawks, coyotes, and toads, all in the same afternoon. A place in Toronto with both a pond and creek running through it. This is Islington Golf Club.

Like so many other clubs, we wanted to learn more and do more for the environment.

​We’re excited to share that Islington Golf Club is currently working toward earning the Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary designation, fulfilling the requirements of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses certification.

What does that mean? It means we are working towards meeting key environmental components set out by the program and promoting environmental sustainability through our practices and outreach.

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf program has six required components: Environmental Planning • Wildlife and Habitat Management • Chemical Use Reduction and Safety • Water Conservation • Water Quality Management • Outreach and Education. To receive designation as an Audubon Sanctuary, a club must complete a number of tasks for each component, these vary from implementing best practices to naturalizing habitats to community outreach.

About the Team

Meet the Club staff who are overseeing this project:

Our Course Superintendent, Matt Davidson, relishes the chance to chat about the Club’s environmental stewardship initiatives and share stories about the happenings on the course, like overhearing the coyote family howling to each other from across the fairway at sunrise.

Our Assistant Course Superintendent, Evan Rodgers, works hard to keep the course in stellar condition and boost its curb appeal, not only to attract golfers, but wildlife too. His appreciation for wildlife habitats especially extends to his favourite feathered friends, the mighty duck.

Dodging errant golf shots on the course with camera and binoculars in hand, is our Communications Manager, Nancy Moniz. The gallery photos of course flora and fauna are from this season alone! Combining field work and communications is right in Nancy’s wheelhouse, as she is also currently working on her Master’s in Environmental Science.

By submitting photos of wildlife spotted around the course, our members are also an integral part of this project and our environmental stewardship.