Ontario Nature and For Youth Initiative hosted two hikes on May 7 and July 9 at Cedarvale Ravine in Toronto for youth in the Oakwood-Vaughan and York-South Weston communities. This week’s blog is written by Leya, one of our birding hike participants.
Earlier this year, I went on my first birdwatching hike with For Youth Initiative (FYI) and Ontario Nature. It was an unforgettable experience that has motivated me to go on more birdwatching hikes since then.
I usually observe wildlife from my window because I’m too lazy to leave my home to go on a proper birdwatching hike. The only way I get motivated to go on a bird hike is when I go with someone to hold me accountable. And thankfully, earlier this year FYI and Ontario Nature hosted a free birding walk at Cedarvale Park in Toronto that encouraged me to try this hobby.
Because I mostly observe wildlife from home, I usually see the more urban birds such as house sparrows, red cardinals and European starlings. I have also seen large birds of prey twice. One time I saw one, probably a Cooper’s hawk, swoop down to grab a rat. It then flew away, sat on top of a high post, and started eating it. It was so cool and absolutely fascinating to witness!
While the species I had seen before are wonderful to watch, the bird walk hosted by FYI and Ontario Nature gave me a chance to see different birds while being guided by more experienced birdwatchers.
Before our walk, we were provided some breakfast. A great way to start the day and get to meet the other hikers. After some snacks, we headed together to Cedarvale Park. I remember it was perfect weather that day. The early morning air was cool and calm, offering a moment for one to pause and just relax in the moment.
When we first entered the park, we saw quite a few red-winged blackbirds, specifically males because they are easier to identify. The red colour on their wing against their black body is pretty and the deeper the red, the better. At one point, I remember seeing a large field with moving black dots. As we got closer, we realized those black dots were European starlings! Their beautiful purple and bluish colour get brighter with the sunlight. During the hike, we also saw ruby-crowned kinglets and a Baltimore oriole. I definitely don’t see those from my window! All were absolutely beautiful to watch. Whenever one of us noticed a new bird species, we would all crowd around to try and spot the bird through the branches and leaves.
I am not a morning person but waking up early that day to go birdwatching with like-minded peers felt great. I got to see a part of my community that I had never seen before, met some lovely people, and got to observe so many beautiful birds. Thank you to Ontario Nature and FYI for giving me this experience!
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced birder, Ontario Nature has great resources that can help you out during your next birding adventure. Check out this guide for birding in a big city, or watch this webinar to learn more:
Blog Author: Leya is a graduate of Environmental Studies, currently taking a certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership and Development. She is the People and Culture Coordinator at Evergreen (Evergreen Brickworks). Leya strongly believes in the connections between environmental and social justice, doing her best to reject fundamental systems beliefs that are harmful to people and the environment.