• Southern Ontario Hiking Resources

birds spring

Spring Birds of Ontario

Each Spring, millions of birds take to the southern sky as they wing their way north to Ontario. They fly alone, in pairs, in waves and flocks and in strict formations. The smaller songbirds fly at about 1000 m while the larger ducks and geese may be 3 km high as they cruise the Atlantic flyway. Birds migrate north by day and by night, sometimes both. Songbirds are mostly night flyers where the darkness offers protection from predators. But the bright lights of cities can be fatal attractions. The flights are gruelling and sanctuaries must be found for food and rest.


How do they find their way? We believe they navigate by the sun, the stars and the Earth’s magnetic field. Some navigate by recognizing landmarks below -rivers, lakes, shorelines and valleys. Some believe they have an internal barometer that keeps them at a steady altitude.

Hundreds of species of birds fly north to us each year. Here is a look at only a few of them.

FF_americanrobinAMERICAN ROBIN

Identifier: Red breast (male)
Weight: 75 g
Wingspan: 40 cm
Length: 25 cm
Fly speed: 60 km/h
Migrate: During the day
Food: Worms, insects, berries
Behaviour: They are thrushes that love to sing at dawn & dusk.
Enemies: Crows, jays, cats, raccoons
Habitat: Yards, open fields

FF2_baltimoreoriole BALTIMORE ORIOLE

Identifier: Bright flame orange breast; black hood
Weight: 35 g
Wingspan: 30 cm
Length: 20 cm
Fly speed: 35 km/h
Migrate: At night
Food: Insects, berries, nectar
Behaviour: Great weavers with intricate hanging nests
Enemies: Owls, hawks
Habitat: Open woods, tall trees

FF_killdeer KILLDEER

Identifier: Long legs; two dark neck rings
Weight: 95 g
Wingspan: 50 cm
Length: 25 cm
Fly speed: Up to 90 km/h
Migrate: All hours
Food: Insects
Behaviour: Ground nesters, can fake injury to draw predators from nest
Enemies: Hawks, foxes, cats, dogs, rats
Habitat: Fields, parks, golf courses

FF_canadagooseCANADA GOOSE

Identifier: Black neck; white chin strap
Weight: Up to 6 kg
Wingspan: Up to 1.9 m
Length: 55 - 122 cm
Fly speed: 60 km/h
Migrate: All hours
Food: Aquatic vegetation, seeds, grass
Behaviour: Mate for life; can fly 1000 km in one day.
Enemies: Eagles, foxes, falcons, owls, humans
Habitat: Lakes, shores, ponds

FF_mallardduckMALLARD DUCK

Identifier: Iridescent green head (male)
Weight: 1.25 kg
Wingspan: 90 cm
Length: 65 cm
Fly speed: 100 km/h
Migrate: All hours
Food: Aquatic insects, plants
Behaviour: Very high flyers
Enemies: Hawks, foxes, owls, raccoons, humans
Habitat: Shores, ponds, small lakes

FF_redwingedblackbirdRED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

Identifier: Red shoulder patch (male)
Weight: 65 g (male)
Wingspan: 35 cm
Length: 18 - 24 cm
Fly speed: 45 km/h
Migrate: Usually by day
Food: Insects, seeds
Behaviour: Male acts as sentinel protecting nests from predators; attack if danger approaches
Enemies: Foxes, hawks, owls, crows
Habitat: Wetlands, river valleys


Identifier: White face; black stripe over eye; hoarse gronnk call
Weight: 2.5 kg
Wingspan: 1.8 m
Length: 1.4 m
Fly speed: 50 km/h
Migrate: All hours
Food: Fish, frogs, snakes, mice
Behaviour:Very patient fishers; great slow-motion gliders
Enemies: Man; few natural enemies
Habitat: Wetlands, shores

FF_rubythroatedhummingbirdRUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD

Identifier: Red throat (male); long beak
Weight: 3.5 g
Wingspan: 12 cm
Length: 9 cm
Fly speed: 95 km/h
Migrate:By day except for continuous flight over the Gulf of Mexico.
Food: Nectar, insects
Behaviour: Can hover, fly backwards & upside down
Enemies: Crows, jays, frogs, fish, cats
Habitat: Mixed forest, protected greenlands

FF_whitethroatedsparrow02WHITE-THROATED SPARROW

Identifier: White or tan stripe through centre of crown, bordered with wide black stripes; a yellow spot before the eye
Weight:  22 - 32 g
Wingspan:  20 -23 cm
Length:  16 - 18 cm
Fly speed:  km/h
Migrate: day
Food: Seeds, fruits, and insects.
Behaviour: Known for its distinctive song "My Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada."
Enemies: cats
Habitat: in fields and hedgerows



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