Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where to Find Wildlife and Birds in Toronto

Where? Well, the truth is, you can look just about anywhere: the nearest reasonably big park, your backyard, you name it. But for those of you wanting slightly more specific ideas, here are some of the best places to look for birds and wildlife in Toronto and 'Greater Toronto.' In no particular order you can try:

  • Glen Rouge Park--a very big park in the general vicinity of the Toronto Zoo, accessible off Kingston Road just east of Port Union Road. Filled with (often poorly marked) trails you can find deer, fox, coyotes, woodpeckers, kingfishers, herons, geese, various other birds, and several army divisions of black squirrels. Realize however the park is very large so the animals aren't exactly lined up for you to see them, and you can get lost here quite easily. Always be prepared to walk a couple of hours.
  • High Park--a large park on the west side of Toronto that stretches from the Queensway north to Bloor. Lots of entrances and oodles of (free!) parking. At various times of the year there are many aquatic and shore birds, and on a more permanent basis, fox, mink and raccoons. I've even heard there's a deer in High Park - though how it got in there I have no idea.
  • Leslie Street Spit--open to the public only on weekends and holidays and located at the foot of Leslie Street south of Lakeshore Blvd. You can find most anything on the spit: tons of birds if you're lucky, turtles, fox, and probably all sorts of other stuff. Be warned again that this park can trap you into taking a very long walk because whatever distance you walk on your way in you've got to walk on the way out. Pace yourself accordingly.
  • The Don Valley--this may not seem like such specific advice, but the Don Valley is fantastic for animal life. Just as traffic engineers saw the valley as a great place for traffic to get through and built the Don Valley Parkway, the Don Valley river system is a natural highway for animal life. Check your handy GPS or buy a map for $5.00 from CAA and go poking around in any park near, in or adjacent to the valley. You never know what you'll find. I've seen deer within a couple of hundred yards of the Don River all the way from Sheppard to the lakeshore and often within a stone's throw of major streets.
That should keep you busy for awhile, and if you're really serious about spotting something cool remember to go early in the morning (think: sunrise) or near sunset.

Looking for more spots? Check Part II.