What Comes Naturally : Birds, Butterflies and Other Beings that are Common in Toronto


A few weeks ago I posted these pictures of a family of Cardinals that had nested in our tree. I was so excited to get a good look at them because we rarely see these beautiful red birds around here.

Then last week, an online friend posted some pictures of a hummingbird he saw in his garden, with a statement about how happy he had been to see it. Then reading the comments people left on his post, it was clear that some people see hummingbirds all the time. The same would go for Cardinals. Of course, it just depends on where you live.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d show you some recent shots that I’ve taken of some of the creatures that are commonly seen here in Toronto. Maybe there’s something here that you rarely see where you live.

Critters : You’ve seen many photos of squirrels here before, but how about a few of our newest little ‘pet’, born this spring? She is always around, entertaining us with her cute ways. Nick loves peanuts in the shell and she has made it clear that she does too.

She is different from the usual squirrels we have had around our yard, in that she is this grey-brown colour, when most of the ones we see regularly are black . We used to have about a dozen squirrels running around our yard, but this year we only have two – this one and a black one (even though they’re different colours they’re both the same species ‘Eastern Grey Squirrels’). The parks are full of them.




I just read in the wiki page about them, that Eastern Grey Squirrels are considered an invasive species in Britain, so some readers may not be as charmed by these little animals as I am.

We also have a different species in the city, Red Squirrels. Apparently those are smaller and more aggressive. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one of those.

Raccoon are also common, though surprisingly we haven’t seen as many this year as we usually do. Nick has seen only one around our place this season and I haven’t seen any. But in past years, they were a nightly sight, as seen in these pictures.

Skunks are also hanging out in the city in pretty large numbers. I see them frequently but I’ve thankfully never been sprayed, but I do walk very very carefully when in their midst (’cause I sure don’t want to be in their mist!)

And only yesterday we saw a rat in our neighbour’s yard. Eddie (our cat) saw it too and was on high alert all evening long. We really had to convince him to come inside. We don’t often see them but I’m sure they’re all over the city, as are mice. I was once told by a city official when I tried to find out where to bring a stray kitten that we found, that the city has a large population of feral cats. They are encouraged, and fed by volunteers, in order to control the rodent population.

Birds : We often see Robins, Sparrows, Pigeons, and Starlings (shown in that order below).






We also regularly see Seagulls and Crows, and Geese, Ducks and Swans down along the waterfront.

Every evening in the summer, the distinctive chirping sound of Swallows flying around overhead can be heard, and if you look carefully you can see them soaring around high up in the sky, but I’ve never actually seen one close up (unlike this one that we got a very good look at last summer when she was nesting in a box right on my in-laws’ porch, out on Canada’s West Coast.)

We do get a variety of more uncommon (for here) birds flying through the city when they migrate in the spring and the fall. In fact, I just saw a couple of new-to-me ones today, that I haven’t identified. I didn’t get any pictures but will now keep my camera close-by.

As for hummingbirds, we have seen one, one time, but I always keep by eyes peeled.

Butterflies : We see butterflies fairly frequently, recently spotting the three species below …



↑ Swallowtail ↑


↑ Red Admiral ↑


↑ Eastern Comma (named so because of the little white comma shaped mark on its wing)

Insects : Too many to list, but the one we see most of is the house fly. I imagine that’s the case everywhere.

Here’s a Common Green Bottle Fly on our daisy plant.


And we see Ladybugs fairly often …


I can’t say we see loads of bees, but there are some. Keeping hives is a hobby that is becoming more popular in Toronto, in spite of there being a law that bees cannot be kept within 30 metres of places people live. There’s a big hotel relatively close by called The Royal York that has hives on its roof. I think the bees we get in our garden are from their hives.


I spotted this wasp nest high up in a tree nearby, but they don’t really bother us much and I’ve never been stung. They are around though. There is indication that wasps can recognize each others’ faces, so maybe the ones from the nest recognize me and Nick and leave us alone. (National Geographic)


We don’t have a problem with biting insects like mosquitoes in Toronto, thanks to the city treating the sewers with a larvicide that stops them from developing. This is important, not only so residents can avoid itchy welts, but more so because we are in the region effected by the potentially deadly West Nile Virus which is transmitted by Mosquitos.

So that is a quick summary of the creatures that are commonly seen in this city. I’ve probably missed something though, so if you’re from here too, let me know in the comments.

Thanks very much for taking a look,
xo loulou