On The Wild Side: Enjoy the sights and sounds of birds, bees, and more this summer

A killdeer is seen in this photo taken earlier this year. Photo by Ann Brokelman.


Summer arrives this week and the trees are full, not just of leaves, but of birds, caterpillars, bees, and other insects.

Speaking of the birds and the bees, earlier this spring was to the time to keep your eyes open for the new generation of wildlife.

I think what most of us got to notice were the baby robins that hatched in nests in our yards, or the baby waterfowl that we saw walking around. The lakefront is always one of my regular destinations in the spring, and any trip there includes countless sightings of ducklings, goslings, and even some cygnets (baby swans).

Another common sighting, along the lakeshore in spring, are baby killdeer. You may recognize the parents who are famous for their broken wing dance: they make loud chirps and run around you, with a wing sticking out at an odd angle, hoping to lead you away from their nest. If this ever happens, follow the parent; you were a little too close to the nest for their comfort, and there’s no need to increase their anxiety. Once the adult leaves you alone, watch and see where it goes next. With the zoom on your camera, you’ll get to see where the nest and eggs are.

Earlier this spring I went to a local park, sat on a bench, and watched for some of the late migrators begin their nest preparation. I was mostly seeing warblers, but there were also a number of orioles. They don’t eat seeds, unlike most of our songbirds, instead subsisting entirely on insects and fruit.

Despite my efforts to provide them with food, (I get them to visit by leaving out slices of oranges), I’ve never had orioles nest in my yard. While I’d been hoping this year might have finally been the one, it looks like I’ll have to try again next year. While I love the colours of bright red cardinals and deep blue, blue jays, there’s something special about the deep orange of a Baltimore Oriole.

Elsewhere in the city this spring, the red-tailed hawk nests had their young eyas. If you found yourself close enough to their nests earlier this spring, you would have heard the babies constantly crying and endlessly begging their parents for more food.

If you have not gone for a walk by the lake or the local parks in a while, you should really try it soon. Sit on a bench or a rock and look and listen.

Lately, I’ve been playing with a new app, called Merlin, on my phone. (I promise I’m not getting paid to advertise this app.) This program, which is free and has no monthly charges, listens to, and identifies, the birds it can hear around you. I find it so fun to see what birds the phone identifies and then try to spot them. Some will be easy to find, sitting on a fence or a feeder, while others will be hidden deep in the leaves of nearby trees and well camouflaged.

Send me a note and tell me what you’ve been hearing and seeing.

If you get a photo of a bird, bug, or bigger animal that you don’t recognize, feel free to send it to me and I can help you with identifications. I’m on Facebook and Instagram. Enjoy the outdoors and the summer.

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