|BLUE WINGED WARBLER|
Most Ontario songbirds are migratory, only spending the breeding season (spring through fall) in the province. They spend winters in the southern United States, the Caribbean, or in Central or South America. For the most part, they are primarily tropical or semi-tropical.
Some have undertaken journeys of 7,000 to 8,000 kilometres and will have depleted their reserves of fat. Some birds can use up those reserves in a single flight. They set off at dusk from staging areas on the other side of the lake and fly through the night several hundred metres in the sky.
Toronto is a strategically-located layover point on the "songbird superhighway" that the migrating birds follow. Waterfront parks with a variety of habitats like Sam Smith Park are prime locations for birds (and bird watchers) and their position as the first dry land makes them a major magnet for exhausted birds seeking a place to feed and rest their wings.
Woodland warblers are the main attraction. They are tiny, colourful, insect-eating birds moving north from their winter nesting grounds to breed and feed on Ontario mosquitoes in the northern woods. While passing through, songbirds will spend the day in our parks and neighbourhoods gorging on insects — those clouds of frantic midges — as well as moth and butterfly larvae.
The warblers hop from branch to branch in trees and shrubs, peeking under leaves looking for bugs. In a lot of cases it's the only time people will have a chance to see a bird like that and to hear it sing because they breed in areas where people simply do not live. By the time the migration winds down, it’s estimated at least 50 million birds will have passed over Toronto.
|GOLDEN WINGED WARBLER|
Here are a few of the songbirds that have been reported by birders in Sam Smith Park over the last few weeks. When binoculars are used, they cease to be just “little brown jobs” flitting by and the fantastic, vibrant display of colour that the males in particular take on becomes wonderfully visible.