Easy Ways to Watch Birds this Winter


Written by Aileen Barclay from #TeamFrankie

Today is National Bird Day! Since we can’t all fly south like some of the birds, why not get familiar with our feathered friends that have decided to stick out the winter with us? Here are a few places to start your bird watching:

Bird Feeders

Setting up a bird feeder in your backyard can help the birds survive a long winter. Take the time to watch the bird feeders, in particular in the mornings to see the various birds that visit. You may start to notice a specific routine that the birds follow every morning. You might also notice some larger birds hanging about looking to catch a smaller bird for dinner. It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s the natural way. Birds to Look for: Chickadees, Dark Eyed Juncos, Sparrows (House, Fox), Cedar Waxwings, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Crows, Woodpeckers (Hairy, Downy), American Goldfinch, Purple and House Finches, European Starlings, Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp Shinned Hawk.


Even without a bird feeder set up, you can still see winter birds in your backyard. Look for birds around evergreens, berry trees, trunks of larger trees, hydro wires and just flying around. Birds to Look for: Chickadees, Dark Eyed Juncos, Sparrows (House, Fox), Cedar Waxwings, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Crows, Woodpeckers (Hairy, Downy). American Goldfinch, Purple and house Finches, European Starlings, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp Shinned Hawk.






Natural Areas

We are so lucky to have so many natural areas in Canada. Go for a hike in a local park or forest and bring your binoculars. It might be hard to see the birds right away, so use your ears to locate them first, and then use your binoculars to get a better look. Birds to Look for: Chickadees, Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Winter Wrens, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, Great Horned Owls, Ruffed Grouse, Crows, Ravens, Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers and Grosbeaks.

Open Fields

Farmers fields can be a great place to spot birds in the winter, especially this winter as we are seeing another flock of Snowy Owls into our area. They can often be seen in fields or in other open areas like marshes or frozen lakes. I even had one hanging around my subdivision last winter! Birds to Look for:  Snowy Owls, Snow Buntings, Wild Turkeys, Red Tailed Hawks and European Starlings.

Open Water

Waterfowl will congregate in open waters over the winter, or as they move south. The Lake Ontario shoreline in Toronto gets some interesting visitors in the winter while the water is still open. A trip down to the lakeshore can result in some neat waterfowl sightings, and you don’t have to go to a remote area to see them! Birds to Look for: Long Tailed Duck, Harlequin Duck, Buffleheads, Green Winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Ringed Neck Duck, Northern Pintail and King Eider.

For more information:

All About Birds – The go-to resource for all things birds including sounds, colours, behaviour and identification: www.allaboutbirds.org

Ebird - A real-time, online checklist program, for the birding community to report on and access information about birds. You can look for reports in your area with their interactive map or look for local birding “hotspots": http://ebird.org/

Project FeederWatch - Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales across North America. It runs from November through to early April: http://feederwatch.org/

Great Back Yard Bird Count –The Great Backyard Bird Count is an online project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society that collects data on wild birds. Participants tally the numbers and kinds of birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days during the count. The count is held February 13-16, 2015. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world! http://gbbc.birdcount.org/