Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival - Saturday, May 10

For me anyway, there's nothing quite so lovely as the sound of birdsong. Unless it's birdsong heard along with the sound of a gently flowing river. We currently have four bird feeders in our backyard and enjoy regular visits from a variety of sparrows, two pairs of cardinals, mourning doves, house finches, grackles, and more. The occasional blue jay or downy woodpecker comes by as well. I have a couple of bird identification books and keep a record of new species I see in our garden. My next big purchase is going to be a good telephoto lens for my camera so I can get better birding shots. 

So, yes, I love bird watching. What better way then to spend my Monday morning than at Toronto's Tommy Thompson Park, getting a preview of this Saturday's Spring Bird Festival. This event, happening Saturday, May 10, from 7am-4pm, provides a great opportunity to learn about the amazing phenomenon of migration and the importance of bird conservation. 

A variety of activities will be offered for people of all ages and all birding abilities, including special family bird hikes and kids' activities. There will be bird banding demonstrations, educational displays, and workshops. I'd love to take in the Nature Photography Workshop or the Bird Gardening Workshop. I'm sure Boo would love the Bird Detectives activities. He gets really excited to point out new birds at our feeders, so I know he'd enjoy this day.

On Monday, we started our day with a hike through a wet, wooded area, where we saw and heard a variety or warblers and sparrows, along with dozens of red-winged blackbirds and a good few robins. We used binoculars to get a closer view, but my camera doesn't have a good enough lens for me to get great images to share with you. We were taught some birding basics, including a quick introduction to identifying birds by their song. First steps for birding - listen for the song, then look with your eyes, finally bring the binoculars up to your eyes for a better view. (Don't look away as you reach for the binoculars - you'll likely lose your target.)

After this we visited the research centre, where we witnessed some of the work they do with bird banding and measurements, in support of migration research. We were able to get some great up-close shots of birds they had caught.
Northern Flicker, a member of the woodpecker family

Yellow Warbler and Yellow-Rumped Warbler
The birds are safely caught in fine netting, which are set, then checked every 30 minutes. They are handled professionally and gently, and the birds seemed completely unbothered about the attention. Look at them posing for us!

We also had a chance to see some wetland and water birds, and have a look at habitat conservation efforts.

I could have stayed there all day.

So, if you are looking for something to do, either on your own, or with your family this Saturday, check out this event. You can see the full schedule of activities online. And if you want to see some more pictures of my experience on Monday, come on over and check out the images on my Facebook page.

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