Toronto Dragonflies: A Study in Diversity and Beauty

Photo of a 12-spotted Skimmer.

Recently, I was asked to compile a checklist of the dragonflies and damselflies that frequent the Leslie Street Spit, the so-called “urban wilderness” and parkland that extends into Lake Ontario from Toronto’s east end. One thing that intrigued me about this project was the contrast between the old and new that it illustrates. On the … Read more

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An Odd Duck: But a strangely beautiful hybrid

This is the Featured Image for the Hybrid Duck post.

For the second year in a row, a rare hybrid duck has decided to spend the winter at Ashbridges Bay on Toronto’s waterfront. Last year, this male duck, or drake, was still a juvenile and had a juvenile’s dull-colored plumage. This year, it has acquired its adult breeding plumage, and, as the photo above shows, … Read more

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Fragile Forktail: The Most Elegant of Damselflies

Feature image for the Forktail post.

All damselflies—the tiny, slimmed-down cousins of dragonflies in the order Odonata—are elegant creatures, but the Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) is in a class by itself. Is it the name alone that makes me think so? Fragility can make anything—whether it’s a bug or a piece of furniture—seem more graceful and refined; and the Fragile Forktail’s … Read more

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Green Is the Color of Hope: Stalking the Black-legged Meadow Katydid

Feature photo for Katydid post.

I.              The photo This all started at the end of September 2019, when a friend emailed me a photo she’d taken of a Black-legged Meadow Katydid. My friend and I are birders, and we share a subsidiary interest in butterflies and dragonflies. But katydids? I’d never seen one, so had never felt the urge to … Read more

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One Woodpecker: A Photo Essay

Feature photo for Woodpecker post.

Most birders I know have a weakness for woodpeckers. It’s partly the drumming that seduces us: that monotone hammering woodpeckers make every spring to claim a territory and find a mate. But it’s also their shape and color. Shape because every part of a woodpecker’s anatomy—bill, skull, ribcage, tail feathers, and feet—has been adapted to … Read more

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The Wounded Mink

A few years ago, I was having a slow day on the Leslie Street Spit, the reclaimed landfill and Important Bird Area that juts into Lake Ontario just east of downtown Toronto. Over the years, I’ve seen more than 240 species of birds on this five-kilometer-long peninsula, including such local rarities as Connecticut Warbler, Northern … Read more

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