During the depressing winter months, I set myself a task. A task that would help me to make the most of spring, when it eventually arrived. My mission would be to spot 75 different bird species. With a trip to England taken into account, I felt as though it was a sufficiently challenging target, but achievable.
The only rules are:
*It has to be wild. Domestic birds, like chickens, don’t count. Nor do confined birds, like those at a zoo or sanctuary.
*I have to be 100% sure of which bird it is (or someone with me that I trust has to be sure).
Incidentally, despite the title of this blog, I have seen several finches 🙂
1) Black-capped Chickadee
I’m very fond of these birds. They are backyard visitors, but more during fall and winter. I’ve seen and heard them during walks at one of my favourite local spots. They are easy to “phish” (attract by making bird sounds). They’re related to the Tits found in Europe.
Very common throughout North America, these thrush related birds can be spotted singing from trees and posts, fighting other Robins or Starlings and munching down on nice fat worms. They’re named after, but unrelated to, the European/British Robin
These small birds are bright yellow in Spring & Summer, but then fade. Their “per-tee-tee-tee” call sounds like giggling (to me, anyway). There are lots of them where I live, but they can be too shy to use my feeder with so many sparrows around.
4) Ring-billed Gull
Very common gull in the area. Named after the obvious black ring around the yellow bill. See dozens of these every day, either flying over the house or out-and-about terrorising people for food.
5) Great Blue Heron
Since I live near Lake Ontario, these large birds occasionally fly over the house. Seeing them fly past makes me do a double take. They are prehistoric looking. Is it a heron or a pterodactyl?!
Introduced to North America, this common bird is all over Toronto. And pretty much everywhere else in the world. Don’t see them in the garden too much, as they tend to feed from the ground competing against American Robins.
7) Red Tailed Hawk
These birds of prey are similar to Buzzards in The UK. They can often be seen circling in the sky, and have adapted fairly well to urban living. Many nest in parks, but some are at home on high-rise buildings.
This is one of my favourite birds, certainly my favourite warbler. I love the pattern. They are migratory. I’ve only seen one this year, around May at The Leslie Street Spit birding spot. I had some help from a birder, in spotting this elusive bird.
Another warbler, but this one is a little more common. Spotted this one, again with help. Warblers migrate north during spring and, after crossing Lake Ontario, will often feed and rest at The Leslie Street Spit.
10) Yellow Warbler
Seen in May and needed help identifying them, initially. But since then, I’ve seen a fair few of them. They remain in wooded areas of the Toronto area during summer, to breed, before heading south to the southern USA.
Yet another warbler, mainly because I went on a birding walk during their migratory period. The guy that was leading the walk LOVED this bird. The bird that got him into birding. He got very nostalgic. Almost teary-eyed! Tough to spot, as it only passes through the area, so I’m lucky.
Last warbler, I promise! Can be tough to identify, until you spot the cap on his head. Not as common as the Yellow Warbler, but I saw a few of these passing through on their northerly migration.
Here for most of the year, but particularly during early summer. Bit of a pain in the backside. They are aggressive and were overwhelming my feeders for a while. Got to the point where I had to provide safflower seed (which they avoid) and scare them away. Easy to spot by their long tail, bright yellow-green eyes and their robotic sounding call.
Very common during spring, into summer. Males migrate and claim territory in order to woo the female as she arrives later. Very territorial. Will even dive-bomb humans in some more rural spots. Had three separate males using my feeder during spring. Have a shrill gurgling kind-of call.
This bird sums up the success (and luck) I’ve had this year. Originally, I had hoped to see at least one Oriole in 2012… But I’ve seen about two dozen of them. Saw 3 at Leslie St. Spit and there are lots of them at Warden Woods Park.
Part two to follow…