Bird Tales from a Toronto Backyard – How we started

backyard

Our backyard, where all the action happens.

“It all started with a pair of Cardinals”. This is my standard response when asked how we got into backyard bird feeding or birding in general for that matter. Rob and I started dating in January of 2004, and that spring I suggested he get a bird feeder for his backyard. A pair of Northern Cardinals found that feeder about two weeks later, and like our relationship, the bird feeding and birding adventures have snow balled from there.

We now have between 8 and 12 feeders and between 1 and 4 bird baths in the backyard, depending on the season. People are often surprised at how many bird species we get in our backyard living where we do, but if you offer the right food and water, the birds will come. We’ve had 54 species visit our yard, and Rob even keeps a “fly over” list. We have our regulars and we’ve had some pretty interesting short term visitors which will be blogged about at another time.

Rob started planting native plants a few years ago to offer natural food for the birds as well. We do not use any pesticides and like a natural look to our backyard. We spend a lot of time in our backyard and enjoy the birds and all the other critters that wander through from time to time. Sitting out there as we so often do, it’s pretty easy to pretend you’re miles away from the city of Toronto.

We do go birding around different areas of Ontario, especially during migration. We did our first international birding trip last year, Cape May, NJ, USA and we have other places we’d like to go birding one day, but there is something special about enjoying the birds in your own backyard.

Below is a list of regular bird visitors, and a few pictures, all taken by Rob in our backyard over the past few years. He enjoys taking wildlife photos but does not consider himself a photographer. Me, I just carry binoculars when I go birding. I hope you enjoyed our first blog post, we look forward to sharing our backyard bird tales with you and will be taking turns writing the posts. ~Angie

Northern Cardinal, our first backyard visitor.

Northern Cardinal, our first backyard visitor.

We enjoy the Red-breasted Nuthatches in the winter.

We enjoy the Red-breasted Nuthatches in the winter.

American Robin, a sign of spring for most.

Our sign of Spring, the arrival of the Red-winged blackbirds.

Our sign of Spring, the arrival of the Red-winged blackbirds.

Chickadees have nested in the backyard a few times.

Chickadees have nested in the backyard a few times.

Downy Woodpeckers are year round visitors to our yard.

Downy Woodpeckers are year round visitors to our yard.

 

  1. American Robin (Spring/Summer)
  2. American Goldfinch (Year Round)
  3. American Tree Sparrow (Winter)
  4. American Goldfinch (Year Round)
  5. Blue Jay (Year Round)
  6. Baltimore Oriole (Spring/Summer)
  7. Blue Jay (Year Round)
  8. Brown-headed Cowbird (Spring/Summer)
  9. Black-capped Chickadee (Year Round)
  10. Common Grackle (Spring/Summer)
  11. Coopers Hawk (Fall/Winter)
  12. Downy Woodpecker (Year Round)
  13. Dark-eyed Junco (Fall/Winter)
  14. European Starling (Year Round)
  15. Hairy Woodpecker (Summer/Fall)
  16. House Finch (Year Round)
  17. House Sparrow (Year Round)
  18. Mourning Dove (Year Round)
  19. Northern Cardinal (Year Round)
  20. Red-breasted Nuthatch (Winter)
  21. Red-tailed Hawk (Year Round)
  22. Red-winged Blackbird (Spring/Summer)
  23. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Spring/Summer)
  24. Rock Pigeon (Year Round)
  25. Sharp-shined Hawk (Fall/Winter)
  26. White-breasted Nuthatch (Fall/Winter)
A Blue Jay enjoys a bath on a hot summers day.

A Blue Jay enjoys a bath on a hot summers day.

I look forward to arrival of the Baltimore Orioles every Spring.

Goldfinches stay with us all year long.

Goldfinches stay with us all year long.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, one of 3 hawk species to visit the backyard.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, one of 3 hawk species to visit the backyard.

No bird gets me more excited in the backyard than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

No bird gets me more excited in the backyard than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

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2 Responses to Bird Tales from a Toronto Backyard – How we started

  1. Gilda Blackmore says:

    Wow! You’ve _really_ made a commitment to birds in your back yard. When I lived in Toronto I only had one feeder but quite an assortment of birds stopped in. My prize visitor was a European Goldfinch. He came for several years in a row and then I moved!

  2. Tammie says:

    If that Cardinal was my first yard bird, I’d be hooked on birding too …. 😉