So… What makes a pleasant Sunday morning? When you wake up after a long rejuvenating sleep that has healed you through the core, A bright sunny morning with its freshness, embracing you with its illumination and the intermittent breezes of the cold air kissing your body subtly.
Do you know what fulfills the ambiance of this beautiful moment? The Melodious Chirruping of the Birds! Yes, these lovely small birds of Ontario you can find everywhere, either sitting over a tree branch, resting over your window, playing over your balcony, or simply roaming over the sky(their natural playground)
Have you ever held a bird with your hands, let them sit over your wrist, or fed them? Well, I have…and believe me, once these cute small animals begin to trust you, it’s so much fun with them!
So, returning to the topic (Ya, I got emotional). Ontario is a Canadian Province that offers its citizens a plethora of common bird species- from the likes of common backyard birds to some special ones. Each one of these has something unique and alluring to showcase. While I cannot describe them all, let me represent to you the birds of Ontario:
1. Northern Cardinal
Ever played Angry Birds? If yes, then you must be familiar with that “angry young bird” named Red. Yes! the red one. Well, that character is inspired by a real bird named the Northern Cardinal (male).
The northern cardinal scientifically called Cardinalis cardinalis belongs to the genus Cardinalis.
Northern Cardinals are songbirds, common to southeastern Canada and having the following morphological characteristics:
1.) Body Length: 8.3-9.3 in
2.) Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in
3.) Average weight: 44- 45 gms
They are identified through the characteristic crest on top of their head and bear a strong cone-shaped beak (coral colored) with brown iris. While the male possesses sharp crimson-red color along with a black face mask, the female is somewhat fawn-colored with a less defined face mask- generally gray.
The Northern Cardinal is a residential bird and commonly feeds on sunflower seeds and safflower seeds, millets, peanuts, etc.
Facts about the Northern cardinals:
1.) One interesting fact about the Northern cardinal is that the male feeds the female from beak to beak as part of showing courtship behavior.
2.) Northern cardinal holds the title of the State bird in seven U.S states. These are- Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia.
2. Blue Jays
Birds do gossip too! and blue jays are a classical example of this. These small birds having a garrulous nature belong to the group of Passerines. They are native species to eastern North America and their breeding population is found in Southern Canada, also the period from March to May marks their breeding season.
They are scientifically known as Cyanocitta cristata belonging to the family Corvidae.
Blue jays are popular for their predominant blue plumage with colors ranging from lavender-blue to mid-blue with a white face and chest. The neck is colored in black plumage. The eyes, bill, and legs of the blue jay are below. Body measurements are described below:
1.) Body Length: 9-12 in
2.) Wingspan: 13-17 in
3.) Weight range: 73.7-92.4 gms
The Blue Jays are noisy and aggressive birds and they have a distinct crest over their head which becomes raised when the bird is aggressive or excited, while the crest becomes brushlike and protrudes outwards when the blue jay is frightened. Also, the crest becomes flattened while the bird is feeding or resting.
The Blue Jay is omnivorous and their favorite snacks are peanuts. Along with it, they may feed upon corn, grains, acorns, sunflower seeds, beech mast, berries, bread, meat, etc. You may attract blue jays over your garden by offering them the above food items.
Facts About the Blue Jay:
1.) A blue jay is an intelligent bird and it may snatch bright or lustrous objects such as rings, bottle caps, etc.
2.) They may be beneficial to other species as they are known to produce screams and alarm sounds when a predator species is nearby (commonly hawks and owls) or in any other danger.
3.) They are Corvids and hence may mimic human speech as well as the shrieks of the hawks flawlessly.
3. Black-capped chickadee
The Black-capped chickadee is a non-migratory bird and they are counted as permanent residents of their habitats. The black-capped chickadee is a puffy, small bird and is very friendly and accustomed to humans. They are described as songbirds found in North America and are very neighborly species of southern Ontario.
Scientifically, they are known as Poecile atricapillus belonging to the family Paridae. The “Atricapillus” refers to a Latin word where ater means ‘black’ and capillus means ‘hair of the head’.
The black-capped chickadees are distinguished by a black cap covering their head with white face-sides and are homologous to Carolina chickadees except for the white edges of the wing feathers which are larger and more prominent in black-capped chickadees as compared to the Carolina chickadees, which become the main point of differentiation between the two species. Body measurements are:
1.) Body length: 4.7-5.9 in
2.) Wingspan: 6.3-8.3 in
3.) Body weight: 9-14 gms
The body is white with short and rounded wings, a black bib with a grayish back, and a tail. Male and female birds commonly look alike, though males are slightly larger as compared to females.
During summer, the Black-capped chickadee feeds upon insects largely while they depend upon seeds and berries during winters. Also, chickadees very well recognize bird feeders and may be found feeding upon seeds from your backyard bird feeders.
They show caching behavior and store various seeds.
Facts about the Black-capped chickadees:
1.) A Black-capped chickadee can lower its body temperature by around 12°C! so to conserve energy during cold winter nights.
2.) They have a good spatial memory and they can memorize the location of caches for around 28 days and can even remember the quality of the seeds for the first 24 hours!
4. Mourning Dove
Ever heard the phrase “Simple yet elegant”? I would describe the Mourning dove like this. The Mourning doves, also known as the ‘rain doves’ or the ‘turtle doves’ are similar in appearance. They are counted among the most common birds in North America.
Mourning doves are scientifically termed Zenaida macroura belonging to the family Columbidae- which is the reason they are similar in appearance to domestic pigeons and passenger pigeons.
The species name “Macroura” means “large tail” in greek.
The mourning dove has a rounded head and a long slender tail with dark gracious eyes which are in absolute contrast to the rest of the body. The plumage appears grayish brown with elliptical wings and gray wings also showing black spots. Body measurements are:
1.) Body length: Approx. 12 in
2.) Wingspan: 37- 45 cms
3.) Body weight: 112- 170 gms
Mourning doves evolved to have perching feet to maintain their grip over a perch. The males and females are similar in appearance except for the purple patches on the neck sides of the male which are almost absent in females.
Mourning doves are almost Vegetarian! Yes, the seeds count for more than 99% of their diet. They do love bird feeders and will feed upon millets, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, rapeseeds, corn, pine nuts, canary grass, and wheat.
They also mow gravel or sand to complement their digestion.
Facts about the Mourning dove:
1.) Though millions of mourning doves are shot every year either for sports purposes or for meat, they are saved due to their extensive breeding.
2.) The mourning dove is a migratory bird and they may migrate even to Mexico from Canada.
3.) The mated pairs (male and female) of the mourning dove species show courtship behavior by preening each other’s feathers.
5. American Robin
These migratory songbirds are known to be one of the earliest birds to sing at dawn. They are characterized by their reddish-orange breasts and are widely distributed throughout Northern America. They are even the most abundant in North America with over 370 million individuals.
The American robin is scientifically known as Turdus migratorius, belonging to the family Turdidae.
The American robin possesses white supercilia along with a more common jet-black head while the back is brown with reddish-orange breast. Generally, they have a yellow bill with a dark tip. Sexes are similar to each other, though the male is somewhat brighter than the female.
1.) Body length: 9.1-11 in
2.) Wingspan: 12-16 in
3.) Body weight: 72-94 gms (males) and 59-91 gms (females)
Generally, the diet of an American robin is around 40% non-vegetarian (i.e, invertebrates) and 60% of their diet is based upon berries and other fruits. Do you know that an American robin may hunt by listening? (remembers me of the movie “Don’t breathe”!), it also uses its olfactory sense along with the auditory and visual sense for hunting.
Facts about the American robin:
1.) They do not fear storms! even they sing while the storm approaches and also when they have passed, The American robin is truly a savage bird!
2.) Around seven subspecies of the American robin are identified.
3.) The American robin serves as a carrier host for the West Nile Virus.
4.) They lay around three to seven eggs which are blueish with brown spots.
6. White-Breasted Nuthatch
The White-breasted nuthatch is lovely as well as a very lively bird which you can find in deciduous forests, woodlands like mountain pine-oak or riverside woodlands, and even in residential complexes, parks, and yards or a bird feeder inside your garden. They commonly breed in deciduous trees.
These are non-migratory common bird species and are distributed well over North America, from Southern Canada to southern Mexico.
The White-breasted nuthatch is scientifically known as Sitta carolinensis belonging to the family Sittidae.
The White-breasted nuthatch has got a strong bill along with a short tail and wings and is known to be grouped under medium-sized nuthatches. Their average body measurements are:
1.) Body length: 6.1 in
2.) Wingspan: 7.9-10.6 in
3.) Body weight: 18-30 gms
The crown possesses a shiny black cap and the flight feathers are dark gray in color as well as the wing coverts. The face and the underparts of the white-breasted nuthatch are white or white markings, white cheeks, with black outer tail feathers.
The females have a slightly duller plumage as compared to the males, and the females also have a narrower black back band and maybe a gray-brown cap in contrast to males.
Due to their strong legs which provide them can grip, they can hang upside-down underneath branches while seeking food. They are omnivorous species and feed on both insects and seeds. During summers, their feed is mostly insects while seeds are their primary food source are seeds.
Insects that they feed upon are ants, plant lice, caterpillars, pest species like Oystershell, etc. while the seeds consumed are sunflower seeds, nuts, suet, etc.
Facts about the White-Breasted Nuthatch:
1.) The Nuthatch pair (male and female) remain together until one of them either dies or disappears.
2.) The white-breasted nuthatch travel along with downy woodpeckers in mixed flocks led by the chickadees and titmice during winters.
3.) The average life span of a white-breasted nuthatch is estimated to be around 2 years, although the highest life span recorded is around twelve years and nine months.
7. Downy Woodpecker
So, let’s introduce you to the drummers of the bird kingdom, the Woodpeckers! By just reading “woodpecker” your mind must have imagined those tiny yet fast-moving birds that can peck at a speed of about 20 times/sec. The downy woodpecker closely resembles the hairy woodpecker, though they do not share any close relations.
They are native to the deciduous forests of North America and are mostly permanent residents of Southern Ontario.
The downy woodpecker is scientifically known as Dryobates pubescens where the “pubescens” is a Latin word for “downy“. It belongs to the family Picidae.
The Downy woodpecker has a white chest and belly along with a black tail and the outer feathers are white-locked with some black feathers. The males have a red patch on their heads back while the juveniles possess a red cap.
1.) Body length: 5.5-7.1 in
2.) Wingspan: 9.8-12.2 in
3.) Body weight: 20-33 gms
A white bar is present above and below the eye. The plumage of a Downy woodpecker is almost identical to that of the hairy woodpecker, but one can differentiate between the two by closely observing their bills. The bill of a Downy woodpecker is shorter than its head while it is approximately equal in length to the head in the case of a Hairy woodpecker.
While they eat insects primarily, they do also feed upon berries, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts, etc if presented by bird feeders.
Facts about the Downy Woodpecker:
1.) The similarities between the downy woodpecker and the hairy woodpecker are a result of Convergent evolution.
2.) Among the woodpeckers found in North America, the adult Downy woodpeckers are the shortest.
3.) They forage in tree barks by choosing a bark surface in summers and then dig them deep during winters to roost in the tree cavities formed.
8. Red-Winged blackbird
What an unambiguous name! A bird that is black and has red wings, Simple. But not only this, the bird has got some interesting things to share. These are actually Passerines and are found almost everywhere in North America, as well as in Central America.
The red-winged blackbird is known to be a migratory bird and many populations that live in Canada may migrate to Mexico or other the southern U.S during winters.
Red Winged blackbirds are scientifically known as Agelaius phoeniceus and belong to the family Icteridae. The “phoeniceus” is a Latin word for crimson or red.
While the male Red-winged blackbird shows its characteristic red-orange shoulder patch either while flying or just showing, the female is duller in appearance than the male (brownish) and does not possess the distinctive red patch.
1.) Body length: 6.7-7.1 in (females) and 8.7-9.4 in (males)
2.) Wingspan: 12-16 in
3.) Body weight: About 35 gms(females) and males between 65-80 gms.
Both sexes have a strong, sharply-edged bill, but the males have black wings (except for the red patch), black eyes, beaks, and claws while the females have a dark brown beak with light brown upper parts.
The Red-winged blackbirds are omnivorous but their primary source of food is plant products including seeds like safflower and sunflower seeds, grains like corn, and rice, also they feed upon blackberries, blueberries, and other fruits. Place some of these inside the bird feeders and they are most likely to get attracted.
They also feed on insects such as butterflies, dragonflies, moths, frogs, snails, spiders, mollusks, flies, etc.
Facts about the Red-Winged Blackbirds:
1.) The red spots on their wings are not just only for showcasing, but also for the vital defense to chase non-territorial rivals.
2.) The Red-winged blackbird is polygynous, and a territorial male may defend up to 10 females.
3.) Raccoons, hawks, snakes, etc are known predators of the Red-winged blackbirds.
9. House Sparrow
Though the house sparrows are common birds, native to the Middle East, it has reached almost all over the world either as an introductory species or maybe by natural migration, their high dispersal is due to their easily getting accustomed to humans and also due to their active immune health. You can easily find a house sparrow in Southern Canada as it has become a common bird species now.
The house sparrow is scientifically called Passer domesticus belonging to the family Passeridae.
These are tiny cute birds and the male sparrows have a dark gray crown while the female lacks it. The male underparts are either grey or white along with a dark black bill, brown streaks present on the back and tail, a black bib, and the plumage is overall covered with grayish-white or brown-colored feathers.
The females have brown heads, and pale brown underparts and their bills are generally brownish-grey.
1.) Body length: 5.5-7.1 in
2.) Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in
3.) Body weight: 24-39.5 gms
Juvenile sparrows look more like female sparrows, having a lighter bill- light yellow to straw colored. Also, it is found that in some cases the juvenile males do not have any identification marks of a male sparrow, while some juvenile females show male characteristics.
They do have a very good habit- they are not choosy when it comes to eating food! Yes, you can offer them any eatable food and they will eat happily. The house sparrow can feed upon any seed type like wheat, oats, sunflower seeds, etc. You may offer them bread crumbs from bird feeders or directly from your hands and they will eat easily.
They are omnivorous and hence, also feed on various insects such as beetles, aphids, grasshoppers, ants, sawflies, spiders, earthworms, and sometimes even lizards or frogs!
Facts about the House sparrow:
1.) The house sparrows were among the first to be given a scientific binomial name according to the modern system of biological classification, which was presented by Carl Linnaeus.
2.) Dense forests and tundra regions are the only habitats that are not inhabited by the house sparrows.
3.) The house sparrow shows an unusual habit of tearing flowers during the spring in temperate areas.
4.) While they feed mostly on the ground, they tend to group in flocks on tree branches, barks, or bushes.
10. Dark-Eyed Junco
The dark-eyed junco is a small puffy bird coming under the group of New World sparrows and is much related to fox sparrows. They are found in North America (more common in temperate regions).
Dark-eyed juncos are migratory birds and tend to migrate south during winters, especially the species from southern Canada and Alaska.
The Dark-eyed junco is scientifically known as Junco hyemalis belonging to the family Passerellidae. It is also called the ‘winter junco’ as the word hyemalis is a Latin word meaning “of the winter”.
The Juncos have a pale pinkish bill and they have a gray head and a white belly while the wings may differ in color from gray to brown as it may also vary among subspecies. Almost 15 subspecies of the Dark-eyed junco have been recognized. Body measurements are:
1.) Body length: 5.1-6.9 in
2.) Wingspan: 7.1-9.8 in
3.) Body weight: 18-30 gms
The females do not possess prominent and darker markings as compared to the males. The early juveniles have paler streaks but they develop the adult plumage within 2-3 months. The dark-eyed juncos breed inside nests, well hidden by vegetation, and may be found upon lower tree branches or dense shrubs.
They primarily depend upon seeds as their principal diet and rarely are seen eating insects. They can be attracted to bird feeders by offering safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, millets, corn, etc.
Facts about the Dark-Eyed Junco:
1.) The young juncos leave the nest after just 11-14 days of hatching.
2.) An extremely rare junco called the “Guadalupe junco” was once counted as a subspecies of the dark-eyed juncos but is now accepted as a different species.
3.) Their breeding habitats are generally coniferous forests found all over North America.
Other species of birds in Ontario
Yes, though I have described above only 10 bird species of Ontario, there are so many other alluring birds in Ontario. To name a few, there is the Yellow warbler, famous for its bright yellow color, white-throated sparrow, song sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet with its bright orange crown, Red-breasted nuthatch, and other common birds.
All of the bird species listed in this article are the most common backyard birds in Ontario.
“Oh! how cute they are” or “I want to have one”- Don’t tell me that these things didn’t come to your mind while reading this article, Maybe you loved how puffy and round-shaped a black-capped chickadee is, the garrulous nature of the blue jay, how angry the Northern cardinal looks, the elegance of a mourning dove or even the drumming of a downy woodpecker!
Surely, these common birds in Ontario are a delight to watch and listen and it is also great fun to feed them. Here’s one piece of advice buddy, For once, just ignore the noise and chaos surrounding you, whether you are in a park or walking down a sidewalk, and carefully listen to their melodious chirruping, listen to them communicating with each other and you will explore a whole new side of the world.
So, here I conclude my article on the 10 most adorable small birds of Ontario. Please share your thoughts after reading this article, share and tweet those tweets, and also give your reviews by commenting below. See you soon!
If you are still here, then why not look at some interesting facts about Cats, Click 4 Interesting Facts On—How Long Do Cats Live?