We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
5468 Dundas Street West
Toronto (Etobicoke), ON M9B 6E3
Phone: (416) 233-3558
Fax: (416) 233-3293
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Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
A few years ago I was reading an article in a birding magazine, WildBird, about an interesting birding hike to what I thought was an unusual location. The author was very positive on the hike as a whole and I thought one day I’ll have to try a similar hike. It wouldn’t be hard to replicate the hike because in Etobicoke we have a very similar location not too far away from the store or our home. In fact, I used to take the odd walk through this area when Lynda worked for a local dentist and I was early picking her up.
Prior to making a final plan to hike this location I checked a map to determine if the local habitat would help support a successful hike. I knew the area had many mature trees of different types, some lower level cover from shrubs and flowers. Some of these plants are native and would provide food for the birds and the actual area is quiet but it is bordered on two sides by busy streets. But the map confirmed my suspicions, the Humber River is just east of this area and Lake Ontario is not too far south. It did seem that this location would provide good habitat for our all year residents and its proximity to the Humber River and Lake Ontario might entice a migrating bird to make a stop over.
Not to prolong the suspense, the location was the Park Lawn Cemetery. This well established cemetery is located off of Prince Edward Drive at the intersection of Bloor Street. The cemetery is on the south side of Bloor and on the east side of Prince Edward.
I made two trips to the cemetery, one in the early evening around 5:00 pm and a second trip in the morning around 9:00 am.
The entrance is off Prince Edward on the east side. For each hike I entered the cemetery and took the first road to the right, then the first left and I followed this road until it came to a "Y" junction and I took the veer to the left and drove until the road curved to the right and widened into a good parking area. Based on the signs I was in the "N" section.
My evening hike
When I first got out of the car the distinctive loud raucous calls of the Blue Jays dominated the air. As I looked around the small flock (eight Jays) were flying out of a tree to my left heading further into the cemetery. A good start. I followed the road that headed west back towards Prince Edward but then realized the main clusters of trees were either to my right (backing along some houses) or further to my left amongst the plots. Well, you have to go where the birds might be found. I headed along the walkways amongst the plots.
I wasn’t hearing or seeing any birds at first but then as I went around a couple of large trees I startled a bird that was on the ground between the plots. As I watched it fly into the air I saw its white rump, tan back and heard its "bwirr", a Yellow-Shafted Flicker. I followed it fly back over where I had parked and there to the left of may car at the top of what looked like a dead tree was twelve flickers. They all then took flight. They must have startled some Black-capped Chickadees because now the air was filled with the call of startled chickadees, "teeteeteetee".
I started walking in widening loops to cover more of the area but the birds (other than the flickers and jays) were not be seen or heard. I got back in the car and drove the perimeter of the cemetery. It was along the cemetery road that paralleled Bloor I was surprised by a mature Cooper’s Hawk sitting on top of a headstone not more than five feet from the car window. He just sat there and looked at me and we looked at each other for a good two minutes when I decided I should get hold of my camera, of course he flew off. I have never been that close to a wild raptor for that long, it was a very peaceful moment.
My day hike.
I returned a couple of mornings later to see if any new birds had arrived. I started in the same place and was greeted by the flickers and jays. I found out what was keeping the Blue Jays in the area, there was a big oak with lots of acorns in the tree and on the ground. The chickadees returned but that was it. The number of species sighted was disappointing but I did get to spend a lot of time watching the behaviour of the flickers. There was something flying, Bumblebees were visiting the Golden Rod.
I think there is a lot of potential but if nothing else it is a peaceful place for a walk and you might get to lock eyes with a raptor. Happy Birding!