There are many amazing locations for birding both local to Stouffville and a short drive away. Read on to find out more about York Region Forest, conservation areas within Town and tips for attracting birds to your backyard.
The York Region Forest has many different tracts and provides a great environment for a lot of bird species. Spread along Highway 48, the forest starts around Ballantrae and continues as far North as the intersection of Davis Drive and McCowan.
Tracts include: Patterson Tract, Hall Tract, Scout Tract, North Tract, Eldred King Woodlands and Bendor and Graves Tract, to name a few.
If you are up for a challenge, try hiking in one of the denser forest areas like the North Tract. Birds are harder to spot amongst the trees, but it’s a great place to go walking.
Further North on McCowan is the Bendor and Graves Tract. This location boasts a forest as well as an open field area. While the dog park is very popular, it is also an amazing place to spot birds. Some of the species seen at this tract include: Northern Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, female Grosbeak, Cedar Wax Wing, Woodpeckers and the Eastern Kingbird.
Depending on what birds you are looking for, researching the species can help you to determine what their habitat is. For example, Tree Swallows are very common around meadows and swamps because they prey on insects. However, the Blue Jays and Woodpeckers are more likely to be found in a dense forest area. The brighter birds, such as the Baltimore Oriole, Goldfinch and Eastern Bluebird are easier to spot from a distance, but a couple of these species will migrate in the fall for the winter. You’ll also get to know the behavior of the bird as you observe it.
There are a few conservation areas located in the local Stouffville area where you can spot birds. The Stouffville Reservoir / Conservation Area located on Millard Street is a lovely place to go for an evening walk, as well as bird and wildlife spotting. It attracts beavers, ducks, swans, sparrows and songbirds like the yellow warbler. The bushes around the edge of the reservoir provide them with a safe habitat.
It is possible to walk or bike to the Rouge National Urban Park, 19th Avenue Day Use Area, from Stouffville. On the way there are some great scenic areas to look for birds. Or alternatively, it is just a short drive away from Town. Besides the beautiful scenic view from the parking lot, the open meadow area and fields provide a great habitat for birds.
A short distance away from Stouffville is Bruce’s Mill conservation area. While it has exciting activities like Treetop Trekking, it is also a great place to take in nature, hike and to go birding. Step onto a wooden boardwalk that leads you through fields into the forest canopy.
There are many great websites out there which are dedicated to how to attract and feed birds that come to your backyard. Stores like the Backyard Naturalist in Stouffville provide helpful information about what seeds or fruit to use. Attracting birds to your backyard is simple and doesn’t cost too much. For example, Orioles enjoy oranges and the Backyard Naturalist has a do it yourself section on their website for how to make a wooden feeder specifically for attracting Orioles.
Don’t forget to put bird seed out in the winter. Some common winter backyard birds include: House Finches, House Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Downy Woodpeckers, Common Redpolls, Chickadees and Dark-eyed Juncos. Most of the birds that visit during the snowy months will feed on seeds because insects and fruits are harder for them to find. You need to provide food that will give them energy and has a high fat content. Nutritious seeds include: Black oil sunflower seed, hulled peanuts, Suet mixes with seed, fruits and insects, Peanut butter and White millet seed.
It is advisable to clear off bird feeders, platforms and perches after each snow storm. Leave seed or fruits on bushes and hedges to provide nutrition for birds throughout the winter. If you already have a birdbath in your garden, you could add a heating element and provide fresh water for the winter birds. You could also stamp the snow underneath the bird feeder so that the birds can pick up spilled seeds. It is also recommended that you leave bird boxes up all year round, to provide winter roosting sites.