Category Archives: Things to do

HNPNC Spring Birding Challenge 2020


Dear members,

Bird sightings from currently restricted areas will not be posted. This includes all conservation areas and any properties associated with the Bruce Trail.
We will adjust the Spring Birding Challenge as required in this rapidly changing crisis. For now, sightings from your own properties are most welcome.

Don Scallen
Acting President
Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club

Spring is almost sprung, and even in the midst of a global pandemic, overwintering birds are still around, some spring migrants are already here, with many more to come on their northerly migration.
So, whether you are self-isolating, or being good citizens and practicing social distancing, the birds are still out there, and there’s no need to distance yourself from them – they will almost always be the ones to decide when you come too close!
And since we are now not getting together in social groups as we have in the past, here’s an opportunity to still be involved with the Club, and hopefully have fun at the same time.
We are proposing to set a goal of collectively identifying 200 species of birds in the Halton and Peel Regions between now and Saturday 21 June, the end of Spring.
It’s easy to do, and there are 2 ways to do it. First, just create a checklist of what species you can identify, including the numbers of each species, along with your location and any pertinent comments like nest building, courtship, feeding young, etc and simply email that to me.
Secondly, and even better, is using eBird, which is a wonderful tool I have talked about before. I know some of you are already eBird users, but if you are not, it’s easy (and free) to create and set up an account at Once you’ve done that, you can enter your sightings on their website. Or better still, download the mobile app to your phone from either Google Play or the App Store. With the mobile app, you can enter your sightings on the fly, and you can even choose to track the location where you are birding. I have been using the website for a few years now, but recently I have been using the
mobile app, and if I can use it, anybody can!
In addition, eBird keeps a log of all your checklists, species seen, locations and much more. You can also search for sightings in any region you choose, you can search for a particular species of interest, the list goes on…..
And, very importantly, all the data entered contributes to science and conservation – and what naturalist club member doesn’t want to do that? Then, just share your checklist with me!
A total list of species seen will be posted on the Club website every few days, and the idea is to accumulate as many species as possible.
So, let’s look out there and see if we can get 200 species. Good luck and happy birding! For the time being, we will stay in and around our homes. As the conditions improve and we are able to venture farther away from our residence, our hot birding spots will become our objective.
TARGET: 200 species by the end of spring. If you have a photograph of a bird you can’t identify, send it along.
E-Mail your list and any questions to Ian Jarvie (


Toronto and Region Conservation Winter Events

1. Winter Bird Count
Date: Saturday, January 14
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Claireville Conservation Area – 8180 Hwy 50, Brampton, ON L6T 0A7, Canada
Description: The Christmas Bird Count is a fun, family-friendly bird watching event that promotes nature appreciation and environmental stewardship. Build bird identification skills and contribute to important Citizen Science work for bird conservation! All ages are welcome. This event is in partnership with Bird Studies Canada. The event will be hosted outside so please dress warmly.
This is a FREE event. Please register online to secure your spot:

2.Snowshoes and Snow-clues at Newhouse Park
Date: Saturday, February 11        
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Newhouse Park – 16 Cliffview Court, Caledon Ontario        
Description: Discover the wonders of winter wildlife while identifying tracks and signs of local animals. Try out snowshoeing. In the event of a snow-free day, join us for a winter walk through the woods. This is a FREE event. Please register to secure your spot:

3. Hoot and Howl at Albion Hills
Date: Saturday, February 25        
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Albion Hills Conservation Area Field Centre
16500 Peel Regional Rd 50 Caledon,
Description: Join Toronto and Region Conservation for a night of fun and adventure! Enjoy a short presentation on owls and coyotes followed by a trip into the woods. Together we will call out to these wild creatures in hopes they will hoot or howl back! This is a FREE event. Please register to secure your spot:

Bird Feeders at Georgetown Hospital

By Don Scallen –

I’ve spent a lot of time recently at the Georgetown Hospital, visiting my mother who suffered a broken pelvis on December 1st. Looking out the windows of the various rooms she’s occupied, it occurred to me that a strategically placed bird feeder or two could be a pleasant diversion for bed-bound patients.

birdfeeder-donThe hospital management heartily endorsed my proposal to install the feeders. I purchased two feeders along with poles and squirrel baffles from Wild Birds Unlimited in Guelph. Manager Richard Tofflemire generously offered a large discount on the total cost after I explained the project. He also provided two 20kg bags of seed and a carton of suet cakes at no cost.

Sandy Gillians and I erected the feeders just prior to Christmas. They now await discovery by the neighbourhood birds.

I’ll maintain the feeders throughout the winter and then likely remove them as the voracious grackles return in early spring. I’ll re-install them next fall. Both feeders are currently placed fairly close together in the hospital’s courtyard. One may eventually be relocated to another area of the hospital grounds.

Our club executive has agreed to help pay for these feeders, with money from membership fees. They are ours to celebrate.

New Year’s Resolutions for Naturalists

By Fiona Reid and Don Scallen –

Food for Feathered Friends!

  • Consider adding peanuts or suet for extra fat at this time of year
  • A heated bird bath can be very important in midwinter

Turn down the Heat! Prowl for an Owl!

  • Save money and reduce consumption of non-renewable energy supplies by turning down heat at night or when out
  • Owls nest really early so now is a good time to go out at dusk and listen for them, or imitate them and see if you get a response

If you build it they will come! Homes for Birds, Bats, and Bees

  • Order a new bird house or bat house. Check out new domiciles for bumble bees
  • Make your own house if you are handy
  • Bees and wasps like soft wood: drill holes of varying thicknesses in a 6 x 6 or larger log and hang this on an outer wall or barn

Salamander Season!

  • Join HNPNC on a salamander walk at Silver Creek to learn about these amazing animals
  • Hunt for frogs in local ponds
  • Head to Willow Park in Norval on a sunny day later in the month to look for emerging snakes around the rocks of the hibernacula or beside their small pond
  • Woodcocks may be back and on territory so go for a woodcock prowl at dusk

Help our Pollinators by going Native!

  • Join HNPNC in converting a stretch of the river bank by the St Alban’s church into a home for pollinators and a bank for nesting turtles
  • Help remove non-natives and plant natives
  • If you have a large lawn, why not convert a section into a native plant garden?

Dig it, Dig it Good!

  • Put in a pond in your back yard – nature will come to you (details coming in March newsletter)
  • No space? A dripping hose can attract birds, or a small fountain will lure in dragonflies
  • Turtles love ponds, and this month they will also be out looking for nest sites. Report your turtle sightings to the Toronto Zoo’s Turtle Tally Program
  • Do some pond-dipping to see the huge array of small creatures that live in a healthy pond

Out with the Invaders!

  • Now is the time to pull out dog-strangling vine and other invasive species before they set seed and spread further
  • Start a local initiative to remove Norway Maples and plant native trees
  • Talk to a neighbour about planting native trees and shrubs to provide food for declining birds (caterpillars far prefer native plants and they in turn feed birds)

Have a Wild Night out!

  • Join HNPNC on a moth night, or paint sticky goop (beer, banana and sugar) on trees near your own home to see what moths you can attract
  • Come on a Monday evening walk
  • Watch bats forage over water near the cottage

Help Migrants Journey in Safety

  • Put up weighted threads outside large windows to reduce reflection and bird collisions (check out for more information)
  • Keep cats inside when thrushes and warblers are passing through backyard habitats
  • Plant asters and other late-blooming natives for traveling Monarchs

Fall into Nature!

  • Take a trip with our club to see migrating hawks
  • Look for fall warblers and sparrows
  • Take a child for a walk in nature; it is a great time of year to see animals of all sizes on the move

Buy a new Field Guide and get on Track!

  • It’s slowing down out in the forest, so why not get some new nature books to study for next year and check off what you have seen to date
  • Get out after the first snowfall to look for animal tracks, and bring a book to identify them

Have an Eco-friendly Holiday!

  • Use recyclable wrapping (bags, newspaper, scraps of cloth)
  • Decorate the tree with popcorn and cranberries to put out for birds later
  • Minimize use of colored lights
  • Give nature-inspired gifts – for the friends who have everything, consider buying an acre of rainforest
  • Take part in the Christmas Bird Count and tell your friends all about it