Toronto (Etobicoke), Ontario

Jim & Lynda Mackiewicz

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Toronto (Etobicoke), Ontario

5468 Dundas Street West
Toronto (Etobicoke), ON M9B 6E3

Phone: (416) 233-3558
Fax: (416) 233-3293
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Map This Location

The Humber Arboretum

This birding trip could be called the Humber Arboretum Part II. Our first Birding in the City article (Winter 2008) was a story on the Centre for Urban Ecology and its birding and nature activities . We decided to return to the Arboretum for three reasons. On our first visit we did not explore the areas around the centre, its close location makes for an easy drive on a wintery day and Max Skwarna (whose photos are for sale in our store) recommended this location for nature photography. He told us the birds are cooperative subjects because they are comfortable with people.

I arrived at the Arboretum at around 9:00am on a cold cloudy Monday morning. After checking out the trail map in the small Arboretum parking lot I decided to start at the Meadow Trail.

To get to the Meadow Trail I walked back up the road I had just driven down and entered through the Wildlife Gardens (entrance is signed). When you get to the bottom of the hill, don’t let the fence fool you. The area has been gated to keep the local deer out of specific areas. Open the gate (don’t forget to close the gate) and start your journey on the Meadow Trail.

In the open meadow the only suggestion of birding activity was the call of chickadees in the distance. As I got closer to a wooded area the chickadee calls were followed up by the arrival of the Black-capped Chickadees.

Chickadee

These fun loving aerial acrobats were to be my constant companion throughout most of my hike. It soon became obvious it was not my magnetic personality that was keeping them within arms reach but their expectation that I would feed them. And feed them I did. One, two and sometimes three at a time perched on my hand. Hand feeding a bird is always a thrill. The immediacy of the connection with nature through the trust of these small creatures is amazing. But the hike must continue.

I took the trail to the right, walking towards the Humber River and just then slowly crossing the trail in front of me, one of the local deer. Although cautious it was not afraid and I was able to get a good picture of the deer.

Deer

I saw the deer numerous times eating in the woods just off the trails. The Meadow Trail now connected with the West Humber River Trail and paralleled the Humber River. The birding activity definitely increased.

The Black-capped Chickadees continued to be my escort but now a small flock of American Tree Sparrows were constantly moving from tree to ground searching for a snack. The Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-coloured) were also abundant in this area. Numerous male and female Cardinals were now arriving to join in the search for food. Unlike the Cardinals in our backyard these birds were not as skittish, making photos a little easier.

Female Cardinal

A small flock of Robins was in the area but I didn’t realize until later why this area was so popular with the Robins. I finished the West Humber Trail and went up the Woodland Trail (gate 1) and then took a side trip along the Serviceberry Run. It now became obvious why the Robins were in the area. As the trail name indicates there are serviceberry bushes in the woods. The Robins were eating the berries. But as I watched a commotion started. Another bird was flying at the Robins and chasing them away.

Robin

A Northern Mockingbird was being very aggressive. The mockingbird did not rest until each robin had been chased from the bushes, then the mockingbird settled on a branch to eat some berries. The mockingbird definitely ruled the serviceberry bushes.

Northern Mockingbird

While watching this real life survival "planet earth" show I heard the rapping of a woodpecker. Looking up into the trees I found a Downy and Hairy Woodpecker busily digging under the bark for bugs. As I watched these two a White-breasted Nuthatch arrived. I offered the nuthatch some food and although it came close it would not come to my hand but the nuthatch was easy to photograph.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Max was right, the birds here are good subjects. I also found some interesting winter plant photo opps in the garden areas. I’m already looking forward to a warm weather bird/photo hike for plants and birds.

A location that is close to home, has pleasant trails, and the birds are cooperative subjects make this a highly recommended hike. For directions go to, http://www.humberarboretum.on.ca/inform.htm.