We love sharing resources and tips to help YOU connect with nature, not just more often, but in different ways. Observing and learning to identify local wildlife is not only a great way to interact with nature, but it is also fun and rewarding!
Friend to both BurlingtonGreen and our local feathered friends, resident Dave Tourchin, is teaching us about local birds. Our #DavesFeatheredFriends social media feature is all about showcasing birds you can observe locally, including how to identify them, where you may find them and even what they sound like.
Print out this handy Checklist for Beginner-Intermediate Birders (PDF), so you can check out all of the amazing birds you have been learning about and spotting at home and out in nature!
Check out the growing list of #DavesFeatheredFriends features:
Who doesn’t love the super cute Chickadees? Did you know that the number of ‘dees’ they add to their namesake ‘Chickadee-dee-dee’ call can indicate their level of alarm? Did you know they also have a song? It’s 1 high note followed by 2 low notes, as if saying, “Hey, sweetie”. Listen for it the next time you’re in a wooded area.
Hear it and learn more.
Many are familiar with the Great Blue Heron, but have you seen this other local heron? A heron’s plumage can make them difficult to spot as they stand motionless amongst trees, reeds, and driftwood, but careful scanning of wetlands can reveal their presence.
The stocky Black-crowned Night-Heron is most commonly seen near dusk, as it ventures out from its daytime roosting hideaway to feed along shorelines.
Hotspots to look: Hendrie Valley boardwalk & trails, LaSalle Park shoreline, and Cootes Paradise. (Also, keep an eye out for Green Herons, too!)
It’s warbler time…again! In May, we featured a few warblers of spring migration. Well, the warblers have bred, raised their young, and are now passing back through the city in September and October, on their long journey to their winter homes in Latin America.
Some young birds don’t have their full colours yet, and some adults have lost their bright, spring breeding colours, making them trickier to identify. Fortunately, there are many that do retain their colours, such as the Black-throated Green Warbler. This one has a black and white body, a yellow face with a dusky cheek patch, and a greenish back. Males have a black throat.
Watch for them and other warblers fueling up on insects in a tree canopy near you! (Tip: mornings are the best time to look.)
This small vocal bird is full of character! Listen for a loud “tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle” song and other loud calls, to help you locate them. They have the typical wren shape (plump body and narrow, upright tail), but their bold, white eye-stripe and yellow belly is unique. Watch for them low to the ground and in bushes. Good places to look/listen are along the LaSalle Park and Paletta Lakefront Park wooded trails.
Listen and learn more.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard this common warbler before, if haven’t seen it. It sings a “witchety – witchety – witchety – witchety” song, often heard while walking along edges of wetlands or brushy fields.
They are small and often hidden, but if you watch where their song is coming from, you’ll likely spot them darting out periodically. The males have an unmistakable black mask. Yellowthroats respond well to “pishing” and will often pop out to investigate the curious sound. Try it…”Pshh, pshh, pshh!”
They have a plain face, non-streaked breast, and a peach-coloured bill. It can take a bit of searching to spot them perched in the young trees near the fields, but their song will help you hone in on them as they fly from perch to perch.
Listen at the link below. Isn’t it remarkable how each bird species has developed its own unique and often complex song to communicate? Nature is amazing!
Did you know we have a few wild birds locally, known as mimics, that imitate other birds’ songs and can produce a wide variety of sounds? A common one is the Gray Catbird, which can be seen throughout the city, often on a low perch in brushy areas. It’s all grey, with a black cap and a dark red patch under the tail. Listen for its ‘mew’ call sounding like a sick cat, or rambling songs and sounds resembling other birds or R2-D2! The Gray Catbird sings each song/sound once, without repetition, unlike other mimics. Listen & view more.
Here’s another colourful warbler to watch for locally during fall migration. This smaller bird is very active and doesn’t sit still for very long as it hops around the tree canopy gathering insects, often fluttering at the tips of branches like a hummingbird.
With its blue-grey uppers, bright yellow throat, 2 white wingbars, and its unmistakable olive-green ‘backpack’ and white eye crescents (a split eye-ring), a Northern Parula is always a treat to spot in your binoculars!
This medium-sized woodpecker has a vibrant red streak on the back of its head (yes, the name is misleading!). Resist calling this one a Red-headed Woodpecker, as those have a completely red head, and are a different and rare species. Find the Red-bellied Woodpecker by listening for its unmistakable call, or a loud drumming sound as it pecks on trees. They are common at LaSalle Park and Royal Botanical Gardens trails.
Listen and learn more.
This striking sparrow mostly breeds farther north, and is most often seen locally during spring and fall migration. Its song is considered the ‘unofficial anthem’ of Algonquin Provincial Park, since it is frequently heard by park visitors as it sings its “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada” song.
Look for a crisply outlined white throat patch, yellow ‘eyebrows’, and a striped head (black & white, black & tan, or brown & tan).
In fall, you may see many of them foraging on the ground along a trail, such as at Hendrie Valley or LaSalle Park. If you hear something hopping along the forest floor, don’t assume it’s just another squirrel or chipmunk. It might be a White-throated Sparrow!
This warbler is fairly common locally during spring and fall migration, and they are one of the last warblers to migrate in the fall.
They are quite striking, with a bright yellow patch on the rump (just above tail) and on each side. Breeding males in spring have a black mask (don’t confuse it with the similar Magnolia Warbler though, which has a yellow breast rather than white). Their colours are more subdued in the fall, but the yellow rump and yellow side patches are still reliable ID marks.
- Watch the replay of The Mystique of Owls: An Introduction to Owling in Ontario webinar with Bob Bell.
- Watch the replay of our Introduction to Birding in Burlington & Hamilton webinar with Bob Bell.
- Bird Friendly City: BurlingtonGreen is proud to be a part of this Nature Canada initiative. Check out some of their handy resources to help make your home and lifestyle more bird-friendly here.
- Bird Friendly City Hamilton-Burlington
- Borrow a “Birding Kit” from the Burlington Public Library
- All About Birds Guide: a virtual guide for more information about identifying local birds.
- Hamilton Naturalists Club: Bird Study Group
- Tourism Burlington’s Birding page: Find out about local birding destinations.
- Buy Bird Friendly Coffee at Greenbelt: Check out their Birds and Beans blend.