Sunday, May 29, 2011


Yesterday’s Spring Bird Festival was a tremendous success. The weather cooperated once the morning fog lifted and the rain overnight ensured there were lots of interesting warblers still resting and feeding in the park for us all to enjoy. The CCFEW bird walks yielded many varieties.
The Art, Photography and Nesting Box Building booths run by Friends of Sam Smith Park were well attended.  Eager children constructed twenty-five tree swallow boxes and these will be installed on the Toronto Islands. Thanks to John Hayes from the High Park Nature Centre for teaching the children all about the need to provide nesting boxes to tree-cavity nesters who have fewer old trees to use in urban areas as well as helping them to build them.
A wonderful collage of children’s nature paintings was created by the youngsters with help from Don and Donna-Marie and this will be on display soon at Birds and Beans cafĂ© in Mimico.
George Raikou and the other photographers showed their work and offered tips on taking successful nature shots.
Much appreciation must be given to the staff at City Parks and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for all their hard work.  This second annual Sam Smith Park Spring Bird Festival establishes our park as the best nature park to visit in the west end of the city.

Friday, May 27, 2011


If you and your kids made a nesting box at the Bird Festival for installation on the Toronto Islands, you may want to make one at home for your garden or country property.

Boxes are easily made from a 6' X 6" X 1" pressure treated board ($3 at Home Depot) and construction plans are available at The clean-out side panel should be secured with a small screw to deter vandalism. Boxes should be placed facing any direction other than north and at about five feet. This would make a great school or interest project to do with your kids.
Nesting boxes need to be cleaned out and sterilized with a white vinegar/water spray before every season.

A nesting box with these dimensions and this sized entrance hole is good for tree swallows, song and house sparrows and, if you're lucky, maybe even a Bluebird!.

Monday, May 23, 2011



The Toronto Ornithological Club is again co-operating with the Center for
Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary/Virginia Commonwealth University, in monitoring the Whimbrel migration observed during the period of May 19 to May 30 at Col. Sam Smith Park.
Daily observations are conducted during that time period from 6.00 a.m. on at the South Peninsula of the Park. 
Peak migration dates are May 24 and 25 with peak hours expected at 06:00 and 08:00 EDST.  Hopefully there will be some stragglers still to be observed at the Bird Festival on May 28th.

The migration progress of individual Whimbrels with satellite transmitters can be followed on '' and

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Spring migration is well under way.  Songbirds, including the beautiful, brightly coloured woodland warblers, are turning up in significant numbers.
Birders can be seen every morning prowling the osier dogwoods near last Saturday's planting, the spruce grove along North Creek near the Power House and the north swale.  These are favoured spots for viewing warblers.
Green, natural space along the Lake Ontario north shore, like we have at Sam Smith, is vital to these long distance travelers for feeding and resting up after their nighttime lake crossing on their way from the tropics to the boreal forest to breeds.

Here is a report from Wayne Renaud, a local birder.  He listed on Ontbirds, a subscription bird alert website, the birds he observed yesterday in the park.

Blackburnian Warbler
Jerry Lewchyschyn, Brian Tannahill and I spent 3 hours this morning starting at 7:00 am birding the park and adjacent Humber Lakeshore College campus.  Warblers: Yellow-rumped (45); Palm (17); Black-and-white (12); Black-throated Blue (10); Magnolia (8); Black-throated Green (5); Nashville (3); Yellow (3);  Chestnut-sided (2); singles of Cape May, Blackburnian, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart and Ovenbird.  Other notables: 1 Eastern Towhee; 3 Field Sparrows; 1 Swainson's Thrush; 1 Veery; 5 Hermit Thrush; 3 White-crowned Sparrows; 8 Chimney Swifts; 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks; 2 Great-crested Flycatchers; 1 Least Flycatcher; 1 Blue-headed Vireo; 1 Warbling Vireo.  On and off the Peninsula: 2 Spotted Sandpipers, 4 Lesser Scaup; 4 Greater Scaup; 10 Long-tailed Duck; 7 Red-necked Grebe; 1 Horned Grebe; 1 White-winged Scoter. 18 Red-breasted Merganser; 4 Gadwall; 7 Mallard; 1 Blue-winged Teal. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The planting organized by Trees Across Toronto last Saturday was a resounding success.  Well over a hundred volunteers turned up to plant 800 trees and shrubs, all in the space of about two hours.  It was muddy, soggy and hard work but the cheerful volunteers "stuck" (literally!) at it until the job was done.  Special thanks to a large enthusiastic group from a north Toronto temple, all followers of the late Indian guru Sai Baba, a proponent of doing karmic service for the community.
The plantings will enlarge and enhance the Osier Dogwood area to the east of the sports oval that has become, over time, a significant wildlife corridor and birding hotspot in our park.
Below are photographs and a list of the species that were planted..
(One photograph shows a brave Killdeer sitting on its nest while all this activity was taking place around it.  Can you spot it?)


Colonel Samuel Smith Park
Toronto Fishing, a website that features local fishing hotspots, has an article on our park.

Colonel Samuel Smith Park offers seasonal fishing opportunities along the Lake Ontario shoreline. A long peninsula shaped like a backwards letter C extends from the park’s eastern boundary, creating a lagoon that contains a sizeable marina. The protected waters in the marina bay are home to bluegill, punkinseed, yellow perch, brown bullhead and carp. The shoreline rocks on the lake side of this peninsula provide opportunities to catch carp, freshwater drum, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and pike. Given the peninsula’s height above the water line, a long-handled net is advantageous here, particularly when fishing the lake side. The large bay located along the eastern park boundary contains good numbers of  largemouth bass, small pike, carp and a variety of panfish. It offers good fishing through the summer months (particularly in early summer before the weeds grow too thick). It is best fished from a small boat, although caution is prudent given its exposure to the open waters of Lake Ontario. On calm summer mornings, look for fish to hide in the shade of weed walls scattered all through this area. Dropping a weedless jig down the shady side of the weeds can produce exciting action.