Shrewsbury – May 2024

From our balcony overlooking Harris Park in London, we hear a variety of bird songs and calls. These are usually common birds nesting or passing through – Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, American Crows, Carolina Wrens, Red-winged Blackbirds, Red-eyed Vireos, Chimney Swifts, American Robins, Canada Geese and others.

On a recent walk through our neighbourhood and the park, we identified 21 species, mostly by ear. There was one persistent song that we could not initially identify until Merlin suggested Bay-breasted Warbler. Despite the dense foliage, we finally found the bird moving quickly high in a leafy tree. Glenn managed to record the sighting, despite the challenges.

Birds in plain sight are much easier to photograph!

From left to right at feeder: House Finch (f), House Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove; immature American Robin; adult American Robin

In Shrewsbury, we also heard and saw 21 different bird species that visited the property or foraged along a short stretch of road leading to Lake Erie.

When we arrived at the cottage we were greeted by a pair of House Finches that seemed to be living up to their names by building a nest on a light fixture under the eaves. We usually saw the birds, male and female, calling from overhead wires. They were rarely in the nest, perhaps waiting for us to depart before starting a family?

Our little cottage looked out over a marshy area overgrown with Phragmites (invasive reeds) at the front and a canal at the back. Some birds spent time on the property across the canal that was unoccupied and rather derelict.

Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows constantly swooped over the marsh and across the cottage’s front lawn. Swallows often perched on the overhead wires and sometimes on the railing at the front of the cottage.

The swallows weren’t the only ones to perch on the overhead wires.

One late afternoon, while spending time on the back deck, we were delighted to see a Green Heron land in the tree on the other side of the canal, followed shortly afterward by another. Both herons perched for some time before flying off along the canal. As unlikely as it may seem, these birds nest in trees and shrubs if they are near wet habitats.

That day, a Northern Flicker also arrived to forage along the edge of the canal. Note the yellow feathers just visible along the edge of the wing and tail feathers in the photo on the right. Northern Flickers in the east are of the Yellow-shafted variety, those in the west are Red-shafted and have other slight plumage differences.

Chipping Sparrows, American Robins, female Red-winged Blackbirds, a White-crowned Sparrow and Killdeer also foraged in the front and back lawns. A Cottontail Rabbit was also a regular visitor. A small flock of House Sparrows lived in a shrub nearby.

We knew that Shrewsbury was home to a pair of “celebrity birds” – two Black-billed Magpies whose range is normally west of the Great Lakes. They frequented the edge of a cultivated field at the side of a road we travelled to get to Erieau. We frequently saw parked cars and photographers on the roadside. On one occasion, we were greeted by some birders we knew from Toronto.

Our most unusual sighting was of three Guineafowl strolling across a high-speed country road accompanied by a Canada Goose! Guineafowl are endemic to Africa; clearly these were escaped captive birds. The Canada Goose was part of the flock and followed the three birds when they continued on their way after foraging in a farm field.

Osprey Update

Our steadfast Osprey pair have settled into the long incubation period. They have gradually added sticks to their nest on the lights. Now only the adult’s head is visible when sitting in the nest. We often see the male stationed on the lights closest to the nest. Often he looks wet and is preening, a sign that he has been fishing. By our calculations, we will be looking for evidence of eggs hatching sometime late next week.

We have had reassurances from the stadium managers that they have no intention of interfering with the nest while the Ospreys are present.

Anemones and Ranunculus

Both anemones and ranunculi are members of the buttercup family. We have been mesmerized by these beauties all week.


I remember watching this episode of The Midnight Special, probably in black-and-white. Gordon Lightfoot, the low-key host, performed a few songs. The list of performers is illogical, spanning several genres (Maria Muldaur, Ravi Shankar, The Guess Who).

For good measure, I added a few more songs from The Guess Who:

These Eyes

Albert Flasher/Undun

American Woman