When we think of Toronto, it is the urban landscape of skyscrapers, highways, and the lights of the city that come to mind. Rarely do we think of Toronto as a place for diverse wildlife, but the birders of Toronto know there is more to be discovered!
It’s May, and the northern flicker recently returned to the city after its winter migration. This bird is part of the woodpecker family and its return means spring is well on its way. Northern Flickers have stunning brown and black spotted bodies with gold colouring lining their wings. Male northern flickers are easily spotted thanks to their black moustaches and you can hear this bird calling out “wik-a-wik-wik-a-wik-a” on your early spring walks throughout the city.
You can see and hear this stunning bird and many others during the Toronto Bird Celebration, happening throughout May, a month-long festival of events connecting urban dwellers with a phenomenon known as spring migration. Discover the incredible sights and sounds throughout the Greater Toronto Area as 50 million birds dazzle with vibrant colours, music, and hope.
The Toronto Bird Celebration has plenty of opportunities in accessible urban parks where you can tune into the language of birds. Emerging birders and seasoned pros alike should join us in Queen’s Park with Royal Ontario Museum’s Mark Peck for lunchtime birding in Queen’s Park, or head to expert lead workshops at Downsview Park. Nature photographers should grab their cameras and head to Tommy Thompson Park on May 20 for the Fjällräven x Birds Canada walk.
Just as Toronto is an important landing for the thousands of people who put down roots here each year, it’s also an important place for birds. Of the millions of birds that come through Toronto during spring migration, there are birds that will stay here to nest. Toronto has nearly 400 different bird species calling the region home, with birds like the chimney swift and red-neck grebe hanging around to raise their young each year.
Our lives typically revolve around TTC stops, work, and avoiding crowded streets during film premieres, and surrounding the Rogers Centre on game night. But the Toronto Bird Celebration gives our community a chance to take a break, seek refuge in nature, and experience the wonders of birds with new and knowledgeable birders alike.
This year’s celebration welcomes mindfulness in nature, so be sure to register a discussion on birding and mental health with founder of Birder Brain Kelly-Sue O’Connor at Toronto Public Library Downsview Branch on May 17.
You are invited to #TOBirdParty. So get outside and flock to parks across Toronto this May to forge unforgettable memories of the striking indigo bunting singing “sweet-sweet, chew-chew, sweet-sweet” from telephone wires and bushes, or the common nighthawk crying out “peent peent” nesting atop older buildings.
Visit torontobirdcelebration.ca to find a full calendar of events and free online resources such as multilingual gardening guides for bird-friendly gardens and an interactive map of birding hot spots in Toronto.
Olivia Carvalho, urban engagement & events co0ordinator for Birds Canada.