Bird Tales from a Toronto Backyard – Summer 2015 Recap


Above pic- A male Northern Cardinal with one of his young.

I had thought the summer of 2015 in our backyard was going to be something along the lines of spectacular. Spring was certainly making it seem like things were only going to get more interesting in the weeks/months ahead. We had Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees and House Sparrows all checking out different nest boxes out back. Five male Baltimore Orioles were devouring oranges and grape jelly for a couple weeks until finally a female arrived. We had two new species of Warbler stop in the pines behind our house one evening… a Cape May and a Tennessee. Spring is always an exciting time for bird people.

Then things changed. None of the nest boxes got occupied. The Orioles dispersed which was unusual as over the years they’ve nested in our area and frequented our feeders quite regularly all throughout. Even our reliable Downy Woodpeckers went away for many weeks as well. Other usual suspects like Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays also became sporadic visitors. Bizarre. I know habits change through nesting season but it was really sparse this time around.


A male Baltimore Oriole enjoys some grape jelly.

We had an invasion of European Starlings this summer, much more than we’ve seen in many years. There were loud squawky demanding babies everywhere! I know Starlings aren’t big on the lists of many people but we take it in stride. If we have nesting birds and species like Starling of House Sparrow become a nuisance, we deal with it using deterring methods. For example, we are occasionally blessed with a pair of Chickadees using one of our nest boxes. One Spring a pair of House Sparrows decided they wanted that nest box. A simple fix to the nest box, using a metal ring to reduce the size of the entry hole which allowed the Chickadees access but the Sparrows could not due to their size helped. We had set up another nest box about 30 feet away which the Sparrows took to almost immediately and we ended up with a peaceful little community of nesting bird species.

A young European Starling.

A young European Starling.

We were fortunate this summer with one regularly visiting adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird who came mostly at dusk and dawn. We suspect this was probably due to the backyard being far less active at these times of the day. The Hummingbird feeder is well away from the other feeders so this is only speculation. This was one of his favorite spots we’d find him in when not at the feeder.

Our regular male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in his favorite spot.

Our regular male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in his favorite spot.

Mid-summer the Cardinals started showing themselves more frequently again as they brought in their young.

A male Northern Cardinal feeds one of his young.

A male Northern Cardinal feeds one of his young.

Above pic- A juvenile Blue Jay checks out the yard.

The Blue Jays came back in good numbers too! Downy Woodpeckers were present again. Things were getting back to normal, just the way we like it.

Summer rolled by quite rapidly it seemed. I was already making jokes to friends that it was only a couple weeks away until the Canadian National Exhibition would open. Anyone who has lived in Toronto since they were a kid knows what I mean. The opening of the CNE marked going back to school was 2 weeks away. But for Angie and I, at mid-August, seeing more Baltimore Orioles than all summer, the increased activity at our Hummingbird feeders with more birds and more frequency in feeding, and the Common Nighthawk watch starting in High Park were all signs of something bittersweet… fall migration was underway. *sigh*

Summers in Toronto always seem so short. We embrace every season and what nature has to offer but those days of lounging in the deck chairs never seem long enough.

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3 Responses to Bird Tales from a Toronto Backyard – Summer 2015 Recap

  1. Charlie Zammit says:

    It sure is hard to say goodbye to the summer but the fall sure brings us so much beauty that I’m always ready to welcome it. Congratulations on a such a fruitful season in your yard and thanks for sharing these beautiful images… cheers!

  2. Lovely photos, Rob! It’s sad that summer is coming to a close, but the thought of winter finches is always exciting!

  3. Tammie says:

    Summer was similar up here (NW Ont.) too, Rob, with many species disappearing for the whole season. Love your Cardinal shots, as always!