Happy 2018!

Even a world of black and white can be warm and inspiring.

What Large Skinny Wasp or Fly Has Long Red Antenna, Long Orange Black and Yellow Legs and a Long Wide Red and Black Tail?

Yet another odd insect caught my eye even if it wasn’t pleasant to look at.

What Big Smooth Caterpillar Is Rusty Brown With 5 White Eye Spots? Or Green With Small Black Spots Divided With Vertical White Lines?

We’re supposed to be on bird walks at Riverwood but we keep finding interesting huge caterpillars, too!

What’s This Tree with Split Bark and Hundreds of Round Fuzzy Brown Balls Hanging on It?

Birding is easier if you know where to look when someone says “It’s in the Sycamore tree.”

Trying to Sort Out Some Plain Brown Skipper Butterflies Browsing on the July Bergamot Blossoms at Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga

I thought little brown sparrows were difficult to identify: then I met faded, torn, tiny brown butterflies with a few random cream dashes on their wings. Now the sparrows seem almost simple in comparison (although I still can’t id them either!)

A Glorious Morning Ruby at Riverwood

Some days you see something so perfect the moment you arrive at a park that you feel you don’t have to see anything else and the trip will still have been worthwhile.

In Search of Richardcissels (Dickcissels to Their Close Friends) at the Milton Velodrome

I was fortunate enough to see some of these “miniature Meadowlarks” without getting run over by a bicycle.

A Banded Blue Gray Gnatcatcher Eats Many Insects Not Just Gnats Mostly from the Goldenrod Patch

Telephoto lenses can reveal good things, like what’s special about this particular Gnatcatcher, but also gross things which I won’t bother to share with you.

What Is This Big Grey Brown Bird With a Very Long Black and White Tail Hidden in the Branches?

I recognized this Cuckoo while still in the woods but I couldn’t see till I was home what it had found to eat in a Buckthorn thicket.

What’s This Tiny Black Moth with Two Bold White Bars and a Rusty Orange Red Band or Spot Perched on the Wet Sandy Gravel Path?

An early spring walk introduced me to a new moth as well as the welcome first butterflies.

Seeing a Snowy While Seeking an Audience with a King on the Last Day of Winter

Two unusual birds for the Toronto area brightened up a walk on the last day of winter 2017.

Cooper’s Hawks Raise a Family at the Rattray Marsh in Mississauga

In the summer of 2016, a pair of Cooper’s Hawks successfully fledged several young from a nest in the Rattray Marsh. I had a glimpse into their lives for a few short weeks.

What Are These Black Spotted Red Insects on the Milkweed Plants?

The long black antenna make it easy to see at a glance that these are the beetles not the bugs.

What Are These Showy Pink and White Umbrellas of Flowers in the Marsh along the Edge of the River?

I doubt anyone will mind if you pick these flowers.

Snapping Turtles: So Ugly They Are Appealing

Do May flowers bring June turtles?

How Long Does It Take Northern Cardinals to Raise a Family?

In 2016, I took a break from warbler watching to admire a pair of Cardinals raising their chicks.

What’s This White Butterfly With No Spots and No Dark Wing Tips?

I wonder if I would have found this type of butterfly sooner if I’d looked in the woods?

What Big Owl Is Being Chased by Crows and Hawks In Mississauga?

Who’s this?

Winter Wren Welcomes Spring at Sam Smith Park

In March 2016, I watched this tiny mighty wren hunting hurriedly. I wonder if I’ll see another one this year?

Two Wrens Successfully Survive Winter at Lasalle Marina

Two Wrens allow me to watch their different hunting techniques.

Is This Bright Yellow Bird Really a Pine Siskin?

It’s tricky to identify birds in another province: are they the same kinds as at home with just some plumage variations, or are they a different bird altogether?

A Spruce Grouse or a Franklin’s Grouse at Peyto Lake, Alberta

What *is* the plural of Grouse?

What Finch Is Dipped In Raspberry Juice and Migrates Through Southern Canada?

House Finches and Purple Finches seem to look alike–until you see a real Purple Finch.

November Butterflies and a Bonus Bird at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Toronto

I wonder if the Cattle Egret was eating any of the November butterflies I was admiring?

What Grey and White Bird with a Black Robber’s Mask Is Getting Mobbed by Robins?

An aerial predator finds it’s not welcome at Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga.

What Mushroom or Fungus Is Off-White and Covered in Drops and Splashes of Cherry or Strawberry Kool-aid Coloured Fluid?

The Rattray Marsh temporarily has a wide wood-chip covered path very close to the Old Poplar Row parking spot. The path has been used while the crews have been removing the dead and dying Ash trees. I don’t normally walkaaa

The Three Chickadees of Banff National Park, Alberta

While staying in Banff in mid-August, I spent two early mornings wandering happily around the Fenlands Trail adjacent to the Banff town site. The trail was busy with parents pushing strollers, quick walkers out for exercise, dog lovers, and touristsaaa

A Greater Yellowlegs Lands In the Rattray Marsh

This lovely sandpiper flew in to brighten up my cloudy afternoon.

Pika – Chew! Our Encounter With Pikas at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies

We went to Moraine Lake to admire the turquoise waters but the Pikas antics also kept us amused.

What Is This Orange and Black and White Spiky Caterpillar On the Milkweed?

Not every caterpillar on a Milkweed plant is a Monarch.

What Is This Black Moth or Butterfly With the Wide White Stripe on Each Wing?

If only every moth had a useful name like this one!

What Small Ontario Heron Has a Dark Back, Spiky Crest and Rusty Streaks on Its Chest?

It pays to approach the water’s edge slowly and quietly, especially when there are nervous “teenagers” nearby.

Nearby Butterflies: What’s Flying in the Meadows of Mississauga?

It’s hard to imagine that all, or almost all, of these colourful creatures were here all winter–they were just hidden away waiting for summer.

Spotted Sandpipers Spring Up All Over Southern (and Northern) Canada

Even with this Peep a few feet from my feet, I still had trouble getting a photograph in focus!

Butterflies Flock to Sip Sap In Mississauga

I met and learned the name of a new butterfly today that is related to the Commas and Question Mark.

What Ontario Fish Has Red Around the Eye and Maybe a Trout Shape?

It’s a good thing the fishermen in the family were able to identify this one for me!

What Southern Ontario Damselfly or Dragonfly Has Black Wings Or Black and Clear Wings and a Green Blue Body?

These Jewelwings have smoky or totally black wings, or clear wings with black tips.

Hawks Hate Annoying Pests Buzzing Around Their Heads In Spring, Too

Who will win in this battle of the Jays and the Raptors?

The Joys of Early June: Black Swallowtails, Pink Fleabane, Nesting Fish and Curious Caterpillars

Most Warblers may have winged their way north-ward but there are still hundreds of fascinating colourful creatures to admire in southern Ontario.

What Bush-like Plant Has Delicate Round Globes of Tiny White Flowers Growing Underneath the Leaves?

Sufferin’ Succotash, is that Sarsaparilla?

A Rainy Day at the Rattray Marsh Brings Out the Birds

A rainy day brings unexpected close-up watching of dabbling ducks and high-stepping herons.

What Is This Slender Pale Purple Tubular Flower with No Leaves?

I found a new plant today that’s pretty…and parasitic!

What Is This Grey Black Moth With 8 Large White Spots and Orange Shoulders?

Don’t you love creatures whose names suit them?

Baltimore Oriole Bursts Onto the Spring Scene

Florida Sunshine wings into Ontario.

If It’s Called a Thrasher Why Is This Rusty Red Bird So Silent In the Dead Leaves?

I finally found a Brown Thrasher by more good luck than good birding.

Chickadees Excavating and Woodpeckers Chiseling Nests and Other Sights of Spring at the Rattray Marsh

Eggs abound (or are about to anyway) at the Rattray.

Stalking a Sandhill Crane Amidst the Corn Stalks

What exactly was this Sandhill Crane searching for amongst the corn stalks?

Red-necked Grebe Feasts on a Round Goby

Controlling invasive species one snack at a time.

What Brown and White Bird Perched In a Farm Field Has a Bright Yellow Chest With a Black V On It?

Like the Bobolinks I hadn’t seen since my teen years, I recently saw another hay field or wild meadow bird while out in the country in southern Ontario. First, I noticed their singing, then I saw several Eastern Meadowlarks showingaaa

What Robin Sized Black and White Bird Has a White Stripe at the End of Its Tail?

Watching a pair of Kingbirds near their nest left me with more questions than answers.

Snowy Owl Springs Up in LaSalle Park

It seemed odd to hear an outboard motor and watch a small aluminum boat navigating around the wharf at the same time as I was watching a Snowy Owl resting in the sunshine but that’s what happened recently when Iaaa

Northern Mockingbirds Found In Snowy Southern Ontario

The red on these grey and white birds wasn’t on them, it was in them.

What Small Grey and White Bird is Flicking Its Tail from that Bare Branch?

The Eastern Phoebe is one of my favourite birds and for some reason I always call them “she” without any idea of their individual gender.

What Large Long Narrow White Moth or Butterfly Has a Thin Yellow Edge to Its Body?

This is not a Delicate Cynthia moth although I could pronounce it if it was.

Relatively Rare Rusty Blackbirds Stay in Southern Ontario for This Mild Wet Winter

This is the third kind of Blackbird I learned to identify.

A Walk Through the Woods In Search of Rusty Blackbirds and Tufted Titmice

Not only did I find some uncommon birds, I also found an uncommon mammal while rambling through the woods.

An American Pipit Pops Up in Wintery Mississauga

This bird looks like a sparrow but was acting more like a small sandpiper.

A Flock of Hundreds of Snow Buntings Swirls through a Sombre Southern Ontario Sky

In their winter colours of brown, tan, black and white, Snow Buntings can still brighten up a gloomy day with their boisterous behaviour.

What Eats Staghorn Sumac Seeds?

Turns out Sumac has a lot of fans!

Redhead Ducks Gleam In Rare Winter Sunshine

When the Lake freezes excessively, winter ducks are forced to share what little open water remains.

What Bronze and Green Damselfly Has Wings that Are Partly Red and Partly Clear?

Sometimes finding a new creature is just a matter of slowing down and looking a bit more closely.

What Ducks Have a Red Head, Black Chest But White Sides and a Long Sloping Narrow Bill?

In which I learn to take a close look at any “Redheads” I see bobbing about on Lake Ontario.

What Black and White Duck Has a Green Head and a Blue Bill and Winters in Lake Ontario Near Toronto?

Mallards and Wood Ducks aren’t the only green-headed ducks in the GTA.

Why Are All Those Ducks Gathered Around that Trumpeter Swan at the LaSalle Park Marina?

How does a male Bufflehead tell its mate “Hey, the diving’s good over here!”

December Surprises at J.C. Saddington, Mississauga (Including a Northern Shoveler)

I figured out what kind of duck it was, now if I could just decide what type of moth I found….

Is This a Lesser Least Sandpiper?

Sometimes it’s easier to identify the teenagers than the adults.

Cedar Waxwings Strip the Forest Bare of Fruit In Late Fall

One of these Waxwings is not like the others: it has red or orange tail tips!

A Blanding’s Turtle on the Banks of the Mighty Muddy Credit River

Spotting this turtle sunning on the shore made my summer special.

Bluebirds in November in Southern Ontario

I never know exactly what a walk might bring to brighten my day.

What Is This Red Sparrow at my Backyard Feeder?

These showy birds have made a comeback across Ontario.

Nashville Warbler Brightens a Frosty Fall Morning in Mississauga

A flash of brilliant yellow is welcome on a dull taupe and grey morning.

What Tiny Green Bird Is Hovering At the Goldenrod and Leaping at the Aster Leaves?

Although these tiny birds are very simply marked they are still great favourites of mine.

What Is This Junco or Sparrow with the Dark Head, White V Tail Feathers and Rusty Red Sides?

I finally got a photo of one!

The Butterflies of the End of Summer in Mississauga

More than just Monarchs are brightening up the first days of fall.

September Ends in a Flurry of Fall Warblers at the Rattray Marsh

This group of small birds added welcome splashes of colour to the still green leaves and meadows of the Rattray Marsh.

What Is This Large Crow-Sized Black Bird with the Bright Red Crest?

Of all the Woodpeckers at Riverwood, this one is the most impressive.

These Turtleheads Are White And Are Not in the Water But They Are Attractive to Butterflies

After finding a lovely butterfly in late June I kept looking for these snapdragon-like flowers this August.

What’s This Wide-Winged Hawk with the Dark Head and Neck, Striped Chest and Banded Tail?

This hawk perched on a tree beside the dirt road was not just another Red-tailed.

If I’m Hunting Butterflies Why Do I Have Such a Long Lens On?

When I’m out walking through the local parks, I meet others out for their walks carrying hand weights, Nordic hiking poles, and other fitness aids. If I’m carrying my camera with the long lens on, I often get asked whataaa

Who Is Pinging Off this Red Tailed Hawk?

Would you take on a predator 115 times your weight?

Do Bluebirds Really Bring Happiness?

Sometimes stalking butterflies pays unexpected dividends.

What Dark Butterfly Has a Row of Orange and White Spots Along Its Wing Edges in Southern Ontario?

Seeing this attractive butterfly has made me start looking for the oddly-shaped flowers of Turtlehead.

What is This Big Black and White Bug with the Huge Eye Spots?

I felt like I was being watched by this two-inch long beetle but I’m not sure if I was because its real eyes are very small.

A Bird for Canada Day and No It Is Not a Goose!

No, this warbler isn’t red and white but it is an uncommon but widespread bird in Canada.

What Bird is Cooing from High Up in the Treetops Instead of from a Clock in Southern Ontario?

You’d have to be Cuckoo to want to eat spiny, hairy caterpillars.

Has Anyone Else Seen Butterflies Chasing Away Other Butterflies or Birds?

American Robins eat insects including caterpillars and occasional butterflies. So what was this Swallowtail doing flying aggressively right at a Robin?

What Black and White Ontario Bird Is Perched Beside a Field with a Tan Helmet Slipping Off Its Head?

These black, white and tan coloured birds led me to a nice meadow full of butterflies, moths and dragonflies which made for a triple bonus afternoon in mid-June.

Who Is Calling Pee-a-Wee, Pee-ew From the Tree Tops?

Thank goodness for bird calls: Otheriwse I wouldn’t be sure who this LGJ (little grey-green job) was.

Wild Ginger Spices Up a Spring Walk in Southern Ontario

There’s a reason Wild Ginger’s flowers are hidden under the leaf litter.

Why Is a Large Grey and White Heron Perched in a Tree in the Sunshine?

A lovely, if unexpected, encounter during a morning walk.

House Wren Seeks a New Home for Spring Occupancy

At this time of year, you can watch home renovations undertaken badly without ever switching on your TV.

Why Do These Trilliums Have a Green Stripe on Each Petal?

Late April and early May are excellent times to find Trilliums in bloom under deciduous trees and in forest clearings.

What Large Brown Spotted Bird Is Feeding on My Lawn?

Who is making that wikka-wikka-wikka in the woods?

What April Wildflower in a Forest in Ontario Has Purple Red Blue Grey Stems, Leaves and Flowers?

This plant has odd purple red blue bare stems and windswept looking leaves so it should be easy to identify, right?

Sociable Swallows Shelter from Spring Chills in Mississauga

Like a tree ornamented with spun glass birds, this simple bush along side the Lake glittered with green, blue, purple and orange swallows.

A Pied Billed Grebe Swims Past at A.E. Crookes Park near Toronto, Ontario

What small bird is slowly sinking below the waves while watching me snapping photos from shore?

Ticked Tundra Swan Takes on Measly Mallards in Toronto

Why did this Tundra Swan want to catch a Mallard?

Surf Scoters Visit Colonel Sam Smith Park in Southern Ontario

This male Surf Scoter has quite a collection of colours on his knobbly bill.

The Lure of the Lapland Longspurs

I wouldn’t head to the Arctic Islands in March but these birds are already heading that way.

How to Find a Merlin in Southern Ontario

This aerial war was worth watching.

Tundra, Trumpeter and Mute Swans Gather On Open Water in Toronto

A rare 3 Swan day presents a chance to better learn the differences in their appearances.

When a Sparrow Flies East Instead of South for Winter Bird Lovers Bring Seeds

A meticulous birder spots a Harris’s Sparrow in Oakville Ontario.

What “Sparrow” Has a Thumbprint Sized Red Cap and a Pink Blush on Its Chest?

Have you seen a flock of these chattering energetic birds whirl in to feed this winter?

Are Pileated Woodpeckers Increasing in Numbers in Southern Ontario?

I’m not the only one wondering if a shiny green insect is responsible for more lovely black birds.

What Bright Red Corn Like Berries Are Growing on this Bare Stem and Black Mushroom Like Plant?

Once I realized what these red kernels were I thought it was obvious: of course it wasn’t obvious enough for me to guess without looking them up!

What Large White Wading Bird Is Stalking through the Marshes of Southern Ontario?

This bird is similar in size to a Great Blue Heron but pure white with a yellow bill and black legs.

A Close Encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk (or Was It a Sharp Shinned?)

This impressive juvenile hawk strafed me then posed for a few photos.

A Mink Meets Mute Swans on an October Afternoon

My view of a close encounter.

Renard Isn’t the Only Fox in the Forest at Riverwood This Fall

This feisty rusty-tailed sparrow has been kicking up the leaves this week at Riverwood.

What’s This Small Black Goose Among the Canada Geese at the Park in Southern Ontario?

Sometimes scanning through the Canada Geese will find an imposter.

What Hand-Sized Owl Is Watching Me from that Hole in the Tree Trunk?

If you keep an eye on the holes in tree trunks, especially ones larger than a softball and that face the sun, one day you may find an eye meeting yours. The eyes will belong to a small owl, eitheraaa

Pine Siskins at Saddington in Mississauga

These small streaked birds have a jaunty flash of yellow on their wings.

What Orange and Black Butterfly Has Bites Taken Out of Its Wings?

Two butterflies flew overhead and landed in small trees along the board walk. One was easy to identify; The other posed a challenge.

Least Bittern in Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto

Like many others, I was pleased to watch this small marsh bird successfully hunting for prey along a canal-like pond.

What Three Furry Brown Heads Might Swim By You in Southern Ontario?

A Mink and a Beaver decided to pose for comparison with a Muskrat.

What Large Black Swallowtail Butterfly is Fluttering in the Flowers: No, Wait! It’s Metallic Blue!

Another southern Swallowtail swoops into Ontario on a summer visit to surprise and delight!

Butterflies Abound on Bountiful Bergamot Blossoms

At least three types of butterflies were enjoying some sweetness on a sunny summer afternoon in Eastern Ontario.

What Is This Wasp With a 4 Inch Long Thready Tail?

Was this long-tailed clumsy flying insect a wasp or an imposter? And why did it have such an astonishingly long thread-thin tail?

Painted Skimmer Dragonfly: A Migrant, Irruptant or Local Loiterer in Southern Ontario?

One early June evening, I looked out the window and saw the metallic glitter of dragonfly wings on the butterfly bush. So I picked up my Nikon and crept into the backyard hoping to get an identifying photo of thisaaa

Be Careful Not to Kill It: Not Every Shiny Emerald Insect Is an Emerald Ash Borer!

This brilliant turquoise or emerald insect did not deserve to be “squished on sight.”

Black Swallowtail Surprise

You never know who you’ll encounter when you walk to school!

Friday’s Friend: Blue Grey Gnatcatcher

Friday’s closeup.

What Warbler Has a Yellow Head, Black Throat and Vivid White Wing Bars?

This isn’t the name I’d pick for this great bird.

Plump Short Brown and Rusty Parent Defends Young by Decoying Me with a Wounded Display Near the Woods

This time it wasn’t a Killdeer or a Ruffed Grouse that was protecting its young. This bird has an extremely long sturdy bill and huge eyes.

Invasion of the Buttercups at Riverwood Conservancy, Mississauga

There’s a new flower in the park but it’s not a cause for rejoicing.

Sparrows of Spring and One Imposter

While the Warblers are waiting for warmer weather, the sturdy sparrows are already spreading through our swamps and forests as they forage their way North.

Spring Might be Coming If We Can Just Wait a Bit Longer!

This photo is proof that sometimes the best signs of spring are right outside your door!

Those Sparrows at the Side of that Farm Road May Actually Be Horned Larks

It’s worth squinting closely at any spring sparrows beside farm roads in Southern Ontario. Both Prairie and Horned Larks are on the move from February till April.

The Secrets of Sundews

Who gets the insects that Sundews catch? and other interesting tidbits about these carnivorous plants.

How and Why Do Northern Pitcher Plants “Eat” Their Prey?

Are all of the insects in that Pitcher Plant really trapped there?

Where Can I Find Pitcher Plants and Sundews Easily While On Vacation In Nova Scotia?

What’s a vacation without some carnivorous plants? Here’s how to find two common types when visiting the Maritimes.

Red Breasted or White Breasted: Nuthatches Both Live Up to Their Names

Are both types of Nuthatches frequent visitors to your feeder or does one kind only rarely make an appearance?

What Small Black Duck with a Big White Spot on Its Head Is Popping Up Like a Cork in Lake Ontario?

These black and white ducks are one of my favourite winter waterfowl.

What Ontario Frog is Hopping through the Grass Instead of Jumping In the Water?

You’ve probably met this frog before, but do you know what frog lives in the mountains of Alberta?

What Sparrow Has Yellow Eyebrows in Southern Ontario?

What do flamingos and White Throated Sparrows have in common?

What Grey and White Bird is Flashing a White V of Tail Feathers at Me?

Quite possibly more than you’ve ever wanted to know about Junco tail feathers!

Red Tailed Hawk Circles in Autumn Blue Sky

Do Red Tailed Hawks migrate?

What Brown Sparrow Has a Yellow and Black Beak and Is Wintering Here in Southern Ontario?

Why did I think I’d find Tree Sparrows up in the branches? Silly naturalist!

Muskrats Munching in (and On!) the Rattray Marsh near Toronto

Two fuzzy footballs feed up to face winter.

What Small Chunky Brown Birds Hold Their Tails Up Straight While Exploring Autumn Near Toronto?

Two types of Wrens put in an autumn appearance at the Rattray Marsh in October–but which two?

What is This Yellow Beetle with 12 (or 11?) Black Oblong Spots Foraging on the Goldenrod?

This shiny yellow green beetle seemed harmless as it perched on a goldenrod blossom–but was it?

What Is This Prickly Papery Cucumber-Like Seed Hanging from a Vine in Southern Ontario?

What vine hangs spiny paper lanterns for Hallowe’en?

An October Ontario Back Yard Full of Butterflies

Four showy types of butterflies floated through the skies in my yard today. Three of them were likely migrating; One is up for anything including the harsh Canadian winter.

Magnolia Warblers Dart Into Fall in Mississauga

On a recent ramble in the Rattray I was pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by almost a dozen of these actively foraging friends. Their autumn outfits are different from their spring plumage so I took a few photos to highlight what to look for to identify them.

Tiny Snapping Turtles

The greatest threat to these snapping turtles is furry and likes living near humans.

What Ladybug has Long Oval Black Spots with Yellow Edges?

This small colourful ladybug had more blotches than spots and each was outlined with a thin rim of yellow.

What Small Beach Bird has a Black Neck Band and Yellow Legs?

We saw these “Hoody” plovers first at Port Hood, Nova Scotia then all over the province. What is their real name and why am I looking for a photo of their toes?

Hundreds of Dragonflies Are Startling School Children near Toronto this September

What are these large finger-sized dragonflies patrolling in squads of 100 or more over the fields and meadows in Toronto and Mississauga this September?

What’s this Long Red Shiny Insect with the Black Tail End Walking on My Flowers?

This July these orange red insects were marching all over my garden and the flowers in Riverwood Conservancy. It seemed like an invasion. But what were they?

Dragons Flying Around My Back Yard near Toronto

Meet some of the dragons that like the all natural buffet o’ bugs we offer in our backyard.

Red Necked Grebes Dive into Nesting on Lake Ontario

Part two of a discussion about the Red Necked Grebes nesting at Bronte Marina in Oakville, Ontario.

What Baby “Ducklings” Have Zebra-Striped Faces and Dive in Lake Ontario near Toronto?

These chicks have zebra-stripes on their faces and hitch rides on their parents’ backs. Though they are great swimmers they’re not ducks or loons. Please read on to learn more about these birds and their floating island nests.

What Kind of Ladybug is Pink, Oval and has Large Black Spots on Its “Head”?

I’ve seen lots of ladybugs but this is the first time I met a pink one that was oval with a two-part body. Luckily that also made it easy to identify.

Who Says the Canadian Penny is Worthless? Not this Tiny Amphibian

The Canadian government decided the Canadian penny is no longer useful enough to continue making. I disagree. Pennies are perfect for giving a quick visual reference for how large a small creature is that most people can understand. Here’s anaaa

What Tadpoles are Forming a Wiggling Black Line Against the Water’s Edge and Why?

That black line in the water along the edge of the pond is moving!

Another Bit of Better Bunting Banter

Before I could find out what Buntings like to eat, this shimmering beauty decided to show me.

Who is Playing the Banjo Badly on the Shores and in the Marshes of Southern Ontario?

Who puffs up like Dizzy Gillespie to make a sound like a beginning banjo player? And why is he practicing in the pond near here?

What is this Really Ugly Creature Blinking at Me from the Rattray Marsh in Mississauga, Ontario?

Something is under the culvert I’m standing on and frankly it’s not very attractive. But what exactly IS it?

Why is that Tree so Noisy? Woodpeckers Welcome the Arrival of Food

Does this youngster look appreciative to you?

What’s That Plain Grey Green Bird: a Tale of Two Vireos in Southern Ontario

Here’s a tip that will hook you on vireos!

What’s this Small Black and Blue “Monarch” Butterfly Doing Near Toronto, Ontario?

I didn’t know Ontario sported an iridescent blue butterfly until I took a recent ramble through Riverwood. Here’s an introduction to this lovely black and blue butterfly.

Killdeer Trills, Lies Flat, Fans Tail and Spreads Wings: Why?

Why is this Killdeer displaying in such a flamboyant style? Is it protecting something or is it up to something else?

When One Little Yellow Warbler Is Not “A” Yellow Warbler

Even the same bird in the same place at the same time may actually be an imposter. I’m glad I took a closer look at this flighty warbler.

Be Careful Where You Walk in the Woods: Poisonous Plants to Avoid

Here are two plants to watch out for when on a walk through a natural area in southern Ontario. Both cause nasty rashes, one of them can cause permanent scarring.

Please Watch for Blue and Orange Birds with Forked Tails

This formerly common swallow is now listed as threatened in Ontario. You can help by reporting nesting sites. Here’s how.

Why are There Hundreds of Small Dead Silver Fish on the Lake Ontario Beach?

Thousands of dying fish washing ashore looks like an environmental disaster but it may be a much more subtle problem.

What’s Mewing Like a Cat in the Lakeside Park Woods Today?

Not everything that Mews has four legs and fur!

Summer is Coming, Even if It Snows!

If it wasn’t for friends like this, I wouldn’t believe spring is here.

Why Are All These Birds So Sad? On Mourning Doves and Mourning Warblers

Aside from sitting on a thorny raspberry cane, what has this warbler got to be Mourn-ful about?

Which Little Yellow Bird is Flitting through the Forest near Lake Ontario?

At this time of year the edges of the woods can be seething with little yellow birds. Here’s an introduction to three: American Goldfinches, Magnolia and Yellow Warblers.

Who Needs a Lawnmower near Oakville’s Waterfront?

This industrious lawn-care crew works from dawn to dusk keeping Oakville’s waterfront grass trimmed short–for free!

Out on a Limb: Look Who’s Nesting in Lakeside Park, Mississauga

What lichen-covered nest, two tuna cans high, is way, way out on a branch? And what does a closer look tell me?

Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers in Thorny Situation in South Mississauga, Ontario

How to identify these small steely birds and why they are showing up now in Ontario.

Yellow Warblers Zip in Hour Long 3-Point Race Aerial Race at Lakeside Park, Mississauga

What’s inspiring these flashes of brilliant yellow to dart and zip across the sky?

Why are These Tiny Birds Dive Bombing Big Bird?

In this action packed thriller two tiny birds pit their needle beaks and fragile wings against a massive bird who may take over their nest and destroy their chicks.

Expect the Unexpected: Ring Necked Ducks at Walmart

Scaup or Ring Necked Ducks? What are the diffferences? And which ones were found near Walmart?

Not Only Buffleheads Have a Big White Head Patch: One Merganser Does Too

In which I encounter a small merganser who makes a big impression.

Don’t Let the Green Head Fool You: That Duck in the Woods Isn’t a Mallard!

Why it’s always worth taking a closer look at what might be a Mallard–but might not!

Which Canadian Duck has the Biggest Bill?

There’s one duck that you can identify even if you can’t clearly see its colours. It has an outrageously over-sized bill. Here are a few photos to show you what I mean. This male shows the underside of the billaaa

Nuthatch Nest Building Continues

If only human home builders were this determinedly diligent about their work!

The Bullied, the Bully, and the Bystander: a Tale of a Determined Merganser and Two Loser Gulls

Can one sodden female merganser withstand the aerial assault from two determined ring billeds? Tune in and find out.

Do Robins Stay the Winter in Southern Ontario?

How do robins survive winter if they don’t migrate and why don’t they visit my feeder?

Red Breasted Nuthatches Check Out Our Crabapple Tree for Nesting near Toronto Ontario

Who’s small and feisty with a unique yonk-yonk call and checking out the home-building real estate in my neighbourhood?

Coming Soon!

Despite the snow and blustery winds, this cheerful fellow kept diving for dinner today.

Round Two: One of those Buffleheads Is Not Like the Others! Say Hello to a Harlequin

An unexpected, but welcome, duck visits Lake Ontario in spring and is spotted by the Toronto Field Naturalists.

What Almost Black Large Diving Duck has a White Eye Comma and a White Wing Patch?

This diving duck is far less common on Lake Ontario in winter than most and the malehas a most curious looking bill.

Let’s Not Get Grebe-y: A Red Necked Sighting Should be Just As Joyful as a Western’s Even in Etobicoke

What are Grebes and why is a Western Grebe more exciting than a Red Necked Grebe if it’s paddling around Lake Ontario in March?

An Otter? An Ermine? A Weasel? Nope, It’s a Mink I Think at an Etobicoke Park on Lake Ontario

Who sports the most luxurious fur coat in Colonel Sam Smith Park in Toronto and why no one will pelt him with any tomatoes or red paint.

Spring Snow Bunting Shows Off at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Toronto ON

When to see Snow Buntings in southern Ontario, where they go when they leave, and why I think the females have more common sense!

One of These Mallards Is Not the Same

Male Mallard ducks have a gleaming green head in the spring. They aren’t the only ducks that do. Red Breasted Mergansers and Green-winged Teal also have green or partly green heads. Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaup also sport glittering greenaaa

Spring Swans Feel Territorial Tension on Lake Ontario Wintering Site

Photos of some Trumpeter Swans sorting out who’s the boss at LaSalle Marina in Burlington Ontario in March. Decide for yourself: Did that swan just get goosed?

Why do the Swans Have Huge Yellow Numbered Tags on their Wings in Southern Ontario?

Learn about the efforts to restore Trumpeter Swans to Ontario and watch a video of tagging a male swan at LaSalle Park in Burlington.

What is This Crazy Black Duck with the White Beak Doing in LaSalle Park, Burlington Ontario?

What duck-like bird has blue-green toes with lobes like leaves?

Tiny Tracks Tell a Tale of Who Was Here in the Snow Not Long Ago

Who has been leaving little pairs of footprints in the snow near my nyjer seeds?

Questioning a Spotted Orange Spring Butterfly at Rattray Marsh Mississauga Ontario

The orange butterfly with brown spots and a jigsaw puzzle shape is either a Question Mark or a Comma. Which is it?

What Are These Insects Walking on the Snow at the Oakville Ontario Marina in February?

These winged insects were going walkabout on the snow not looking for food but for love.

Happy Valentine’s Paddle in the Oakville Ontario Marina

Looks like love to me! See he’s smiling! These two long tailed loves were feeding inside the breakwater at the Bronte marina in Oakville Ontario. Many other long tails were diving in Lake Ontario beyond the breakwater.

What Kind of Tiny Hawk or Falcon is Perching in a Tree in Lakeside Park Mississauga Ontario?

This tiny falcon was once called a sparrow hawk even though it eats more grasshoppers than sparrows.

Water Striders Glide into Spring at the Rattray Marsh, Mississauga Ontario

Where do Water Striders winter, what do they eat, and when do they breed?

What Rare Ontario Turtle has Large Black Blobs on a Yellow Shell on the Underside?

Learn more about a Threatened Ontario turtle that eats crayfish, aquatic insects, plants and goes walk-about into unexpected places.

The Ethics of Feeding Deer for Fun and Photos

Pros and cons of feeding wild White Tailed Deer in winter in Ontario.

What southern Ontario Shrub or Tree has Orange Berry Fruit Surrounded with Bright Pink Petals?

What do Sleeping Beauty and this invasive but pretty shrubby tree have in common?

White Tailed Deer Doe Watching Us In Ontario

Photo of a White Tailed Deer doe in January.

How I Missed My Sharpie, Twice, and What I Need to do to Catch It Next Time

Tips to get the photo next time.

Long Tailed Ducks Flip their Feathers at Arkendo Park, Oakville, Ontario

Photos of male and female Long Tailed Ducks swimming in Lake Ontario off Arkendo Park in Oakville in January.

Common Goldeneyes Duck into View at Arkendo Park, Oakville

Common Goldeneye dive steadily at Arkendo Park, Oakville, Ontario in January.

Red Breasted Mergansers Make Their Moves on Lake Ontario off Arkendo Park, Mississauga

Will he get the girl? He’s certainly trying!

Comparison of Photo Crops of Red Breasted Merganser Males at Arkendo Park, Oakville, in January

Male Red Breasted Mergansers display in January to rather disinterested females. A comparison of photos cropped by Nero Photosnap and Photoshop Elements.

Merganser Duck Diving at Lakeside Park, Mississauga, Ontario in January

Photos of a merganser and other ducks diving in style.

1440+ Wintering Ducks, Mostly Greater Scaup, Floating off Coronation Park, Oakville, Ontario

How to count huge flocks of ducks and field marks for identifying Greater Scaup.

What Kind of Hawk was Sitting on a Tree, Light Pole, Power Pole or Fence beside the Road?

Clues to look for when trying to identify a large hawk perched near a road.

What Kind are the Hundreds of Ducks Floating in a Huge Raft on Lake Ontario near Oakville?

Hundreds of sleeping ducks float peacefully in Lake Ontario. Some call them Bluebills, but they have another name.

4 Sparrow Sized Birds with Red Markings that Visit Feeders in Ontario Including Toronto and Kingston

Photos and info on common winter feeder visitors with touches of red in their plumage.

Gross Black Gunk Stuck on Tiny Twigs and Branches of Wild Ontario Cherry Trees

Describes what makes the black growths on wild cherry and chokecherry trees in Ontario.

Huge Pale Green Caterpillar Crosses Road Near Sharbot Lake Ontario

This tomato hornworm look-a-like is another type of sphinx moth caterpillar.

Chickadees Shelter the Winter Storms in Mississauga Crabapple Tree…

Chickadees use holes in branches both for winter shelter and for spring nesting.

What Kind of Hawk was Perched Beside the 401? 403? 407? 427? QEW?

If you see a hawk perched along a major highway in southern Ontario in the late fall or winter, chances are good it’s one of these.

Is It a Hairy or a Downy Woodpecker? Bill’s Telling

How to identify a downy woodpecker and a hairy woodpecker including the three key differences between these birds. Includes photos.

Around and Up or Around and Down: Creepers Vs Nuthatches

Is this how brown creepers and white breasted nuthatches avoid competing for food?

White Suckers Swimming Upstream to Spawn in Rattray Marsh Creek, Mississauga

How to identify male and female white suckers and when you might get to see them in the Rattray Marsh.

Is this Midland Painted Turtle Injured or just Shedding Scutes?

Investigating how and why turtles are injured and shed their skins.

Western Conifer Seed Bug Seeks Snug Warm Winter Home in Mississauga Ontario

This peculiar bug poses no menace but it can be a stinky house guest.

Not So Deadly Nightshade Berries Provide Food for Favoured Few

Do Cardinals eat Bittersweet Nightshade berries and live to spread the seeds?

Update on Cowbirds and Chipping Sparrows and Goldenrod Seed Feeders

More information about chipping sparrow nests and birds which eat goldenrod seeds.

For This Bird, Flying South for a Winter Warmup Means: Toronto?!

Juncos move south to southern Ontario for the winter to bask in the bright sunshine and warm temperatures.

Goldfinch on Goldenrod: Both Can Beautify a Natural Shade Garden

An American Goldfinch finds a perch on a rain-soaked goldenrod stalk.

Identifying Eggshells from an Empty Nest: The Second Mystery!

While taking a closer look at the empty bird’s nest found on a fallen branch of our crabapple tree, we found a second mystery. The nest had several eggshell fragments inside. As you can see, some of the fragments areaaa

3 Steps to Identifying an Empty Bird’s Nest from a Crabapple Tree

While we were away this summer, a large branch broke off of our 35+-year-old crabapple tree. The tree has been dying slowly for several years. In many places the wood is rotten or hollow. So this wasn’t a big surprise,aaa

White Breasted Nuthatch at Riverwood Park

This white breasted nuthatch took a break from spiralling head first down tree trunks to watch us while we fed chickadees at Riverwood Park in Mississauga.

What Mississauga Ladybug is Black With 2 Red Spots?

Examines a black ladybug and compares it to the Montezuma, Multicoloured Asian, Two Spotted and Twice Stabbed Lady Beetles.

Black Ladybug on Manitoba Maple

Photos of a black ladybug with two red spots.

Black and Red Bugs Buzzing Up a Storm in Riverwood Park, Mississauga

These Bugs are ok while sipping sap from Manitoba Maples but make unwelcome house guests.

Female Northern Walkingstick in Riverwood Park, Mississauga

Northern Walkingsticks in Mississauga: Info on what they eat, sorting out the sexes, whether they are dangerous, camoflage in action, and more.

The Mystery of the Two Walkingstick Insects

Are these two walkingstick insects the same kind?

Attract Fall Migrating Hummingbirds with This Cheap ($2.97!) and Simple Solution

This articles identifies inexpensive, hardy garden plant can help attract ruby throated hummingbirds on their fall migration.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Invades Ontario

Giant Swallowtails extend their range into south-eastern Ontario during warm spring weather.

Is This a Juvenile Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird or a Female?

How to identify a juvenile male ruby throated hummingbird from a female adult or juvenile.

Migrating Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Photo of a Ruby Throated Hummingbird feeding on butterfly bush during fall migration in southern Ontario.

Sexing Monarchs (Butterflies, That Is)

You can determine the sex of Monarch butterflies by a dark spot on the male’s lower wing and other ways.