A Frosty Morning by Highland Creek: February 2021

Many of you will have walked beside Highland Creek at Thompson Memorial Park near McCowan and Lawrence in Scarborough. On this -11 degree but sunny morning, I had a look at Highland Creek a little further south and entered its valley just west of Bellamy Road.

Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)
Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

It was early enough that the frost remained on some of the plants as you will see in these photographs:

Blackberry (Rubus)
Spindletree (Euonymus europaea)
Spindletree (Euonymus europaea)
Spindletree (Euonymus europaea)
Horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo)
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsis)
Silver Maple (Acer sachharinum)
Basswood (Tilia americana)
Red Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
Ornamental shrub
Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
Dog-strangling Vine (Vincetoxicum rossicum)
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Some birds:

White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal (male)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (male)


In response to a question about whether or not to take down a bird feeder if there are predators about:

Hi Miles
That they do  (need us) which is why I was reluctant to remove the feeders  despite some advice on the internet to do so.  And the Brome feeder you recommended has been wonderful.  I now also have three suet feeders in addition to Brome feeder with the shelled sunflower seeds and one niger seed feeder.  Had five woodpeckers at a time this morning—three species which are regulars—red bellied my fav, downy and Hairy.   Have had pine siskins at the sunflower feeder and redpolls at the niger and sunflower feeder.  Truly a delight.  I’m going to try to put together a one year photo album  which I hope will be entitled one hundred birds species in the year of the pandemic:).  Only wish I had had the idea earlier as I’m missing some basics I could have easily had like the red breasted nuthatch which was at our feeders for about six weeks and a herring gull which I should still be able to get I’m thinking in the next month.  My pandemic birding started March 16 so will finsh then.  Am sharing my peregrine pic from that first day as I though you would enjoy.  Lunch time at Colonel Sam’s:). Predators are a part of life!

finally i’m thinking  of adding a window feeder and have already invested in bird protection on all my windows.  the one I would put it on has the dots so now that I think about it not sure the feeder will adhere.  But if it does , assume it will be safe? My other windows have the vertical exterior cords
Thanks for all your tips today and in the past.


Here all the forces of the wood
As one converge,
To make the soul of solitude
Where all things merge.     – Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

Miles Hearn

6 thoughts on “A Frosty Morning by Highland Creek: February 2021

  1. Gail Adams

    Hi Miles,
    The photos and poetry this morning are a delight.
    I am so glad to have
    Ruth’s comments about bird feeders and your advice. I look forward to hearing about the pandemic year album… so inspiring!

  2. Debi

    Thanks for adding the comment from one of your readers regarding the bird feeders. I share the Cooper’s hawk the other day that is a frequent visitor.
    We continue to have few birds going on a month now. We added suet, even home made, we wash out the bird bath but don’t have a heater in it however had some warm water on colder days.
    We’ve upped the supply of black sunflower seeds, but in the shell that’s messy but ok. We have a “ squirrel proof tube feeder. We have a bigger non squirrel proof feeder that gets a lot of attention lately from the squirrels. We have a wooden tray we use on a separate pole to keep squirrel feed on. We have a baffle that works but some our squirrels have learned to fly quite a distance.
    From what I can see you suggested shelled seeds, (hard to find) and niger seeds.
    Oh we also have 2 window feeders the birds used to love but the squirrels have take over that too.
    Did you post other advice somewhat regarding we can access?

  3. Patricia Lund

    Hello Miles,
    I am thrilled that readers are sharing their bird-feeder tips. I have not seen the Red Bellied Woodpecker for weeks and he used to be a regular here. I have home-made suet but the birds do not seem to love it and I have some suet cakes from Loblaws that only a few Nuthatches and Chickadees go for so maybe they are not good quality? Is there a good type to buy? I have no shortage of Sparrows at my regular birdfeeder and my heated birdbath is used all day long by all birds and squirrels. If someone can give advice on the type of Niger Feeders (the holes on mine seem so small) and the best Suet as the American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins should be coming soon.

    1. Ruth

      My favourite suet that my woodpeckers love is the “squirrel proof suet ” which I buy from the Urban Nature store. Not being of particular interest to the squirrels is a side benefit though I’ve had to tie them in to keep out raccoons. When they were out of the squirrel proof I had to buy another kind that wasn’t nearly as popular:). It is cheapest to buy by the box full which I think has 12. Urban Nature also has the shelled sunflower seed–they call them sunflower hearts I think.

  4. Lisa Volkov

    Wow, great pictures! And I have to admit that the one of the Peregrine Falcon clutching the bird it was having for lunch was also a great picture. Yes, Nature is Red in Tooth and Claw, we eat to live, live to eat, and not all creatures are vegetarians! I would, however, have personal reservations about attracting birds to a bird feeder to feed other birds! (“Bird Feeder” indeed!) Not that I am suggesting that anyone here is doing this deliberately–and I realize that picture was taken in the park. But if anyone is deliberating doing this, in effect–well, somehow…hm. A subject for debate, I suppose. But yes, I want to thank the unnamed person who sent you that picture of the Peregrine for a great picture. And the frost was of course magical, the scenery beautiful, the birds delightful–Thanks, Miles!

  5. Gert Trudel

    Great topic… feeders. Experiences shared with feed and feeders are always interesting, informative and welcome to feeder watchers!! Regarding the comments of suet cakes; years ago I used to go thru almost 2 BOXES of 12 , but something has changed. I am still on the 4 that I put up in Dec. but have gone thru pounds of Suet from the butcher. I have tried so many varieties ….even the ‘insect’ ones but the birds just aren’t interested.


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