This time of year can be a particularly exciting time for birdwatchers. The North American bird migration is in full swing in May, and if you pay close attention, you may notice some interesting new birds showing up in your backyard or local green space.
Many species migrate north around this time, coming here from as far off as the southern tip of South America! Travelling all the way to up Ontario, or even further, allows them to find much more food and space to raise their young. They’ll fill up on seeds, berries, and insects before making the long voyage back south before the cold Canadian winter sets in.
While we’re all spending some extra time at home right now as a result of COVID-19, we do have an opportunity to pay extra attention to the birds in our backyards. Here’s an introduction to a few of our favourite migratory species to look out for.
The hermit thrush
Known for their beautiful flute-like song, the hermit thrush often shows up early in the season, after a long flight in from Mexico and the southern United States. Hermit thrushes can be hard to spot, as they often focus on blending in with their surroundings on the forest floor while foraging for insects. Look for the rusty coloured tail to distinguish the hermit thrush from other thrushes that may appear during this time.
The rose-breasted grosbeak
The rose-breasted grosbeak is a more common bird to see during the spring migration. These beautiful birds are brave enough to come to your backyard feeder, as their strong beaks make munching on seeds a cinch. The males love to sport their beautiful red colouring to attract female grosbeaks, which are dressed differently in brown and tan tones in order to stay camouflaged on the nest.
The Blackburnian warbler
The warblers are a beautiful and often difficult to identify family of birds. Some, however, like to announce their presence with unmistakably bright colours and high-pitched songs, like the Blackburnian warbler, that migrates from as far south as Peru! Keep an eye out for these very energetic warblers up in the trees as they hunt for caterpillars, flies, spiders, and other insects.
Of course, there are many more species that will be making an appearance here in Riverwood and throughout Mississauga over the next month or two, so there’s no better time to expand your species spotting list. Grab those binoculars and watch for the unique sights of nature during this busy time of the year!
Spotted a bird you can’t quite identify? Send me a photo and I’d be happy to help put a name to the feathers.
Our thanks to Armstrong Bird Food for their continued support of the bird feeding program and the wild bird trek at Riverwood.
Images within post: Dave Taylor / Senses of Wildness