As many struggle with the effects of the ongoing pandemic, interest in bird watching has skyrocketed — with wood ducks, red-tailed hawks and woodpeckers all on the list of spectacular birds you can view on a stroll through Toronto’s parks.
Andrés Jiminéz, from Birds Canada, says birding can offer stability at a time when COVID-19 is spreading fear and uncertainty.
“Birds will start calling exactly in the same location, exactly at the same time of day, every day, so that can be an anchor for us to find our grounding in our day-to-day life,” he said.
Whatever the reason, Birds Canada has seen a real jump in interest since the pandemic started. Kerrie Wilcox says her organization has a winter bird watching program and more than twice the number of people participated this year compared to last.
“We had a 109 per cent increase in the number of checklists submitted. So that just shows you how much more interested people have become in birds,” Wilcox told CBC Toronto.
Where to see the birds
According to Jiminéz, the once nearly-extinct wood duck can be seen all around the city again thanks to conservation efforts.
He says these ducks can usually be spotted in wooded areas near the water, such as:
- Humber Riiver.
- High Park
- Don Valley.
As for red-tailed hawks, Jiminéz says you can see them circling overhead throughout the city. He says you can even see up to 10 at a time near Downsview Park and High Park
These eye-catching hawks are one of Jiminéz’s favourites. According to him, they often show no fear, allowing people to get up close and see them in action.
“They like to show themselves and you get to see them in all their glory.”
Jiminéz says tracking woodpeckers can be an easy start for those just beginning to bird watch.
Usually you’ll be able to hear them before actually spotting them in areas with older trees, such as:
- Lampton Wood.
- Humber River.
Along with Jiminéz, Wilcox is a firm believer that spending time with birds can improve happiness and help with relaxation.
“Working from home this past year, I have my bird feeder set up right outside my window and they’re just a fantastic source of entertainment for me here,” said Wilcox.
Jiminéz encourages newcomers to take a stroll around the city and find comfort in the birds.
“They can be a stable framework amidst the constant uncertainty.”