Snowball the Lionhead at Smythe Park: March 2021

We are all very accustomed to seeing dogs being taken out for a walk. But a rabbit?

This morning I encountered “Snowball”, a Lionhead Rabbit. Snowball’s owner kindly allowed me to take a few photographs of this gorgeous creature.

Smythe Park, which is alongside Black Creek, used to be a gravel pit owned by Conn Smythe best known as owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961 and the builder of Maple Leaf Gardens.

In those days, hockey players were not millionaires and had to work in the summer. I love this photo of Leaf’s star Tim Horton driving a truck for Smythe.

Back in February, I would have been lucky to get one bird here. Today the park was teeming with them:

Mourning Doves
Mourning Dove
Red-winged Blackbird (male)
Mallard (male)
Downy Woodpecker (male)
Common Grackle
American Robin
Red-winged Blackbird (male)
Northern Cardinal (male)
Red-winged Blackbird (male)
Song Sparrow
Canada Goose
Mallard (female)

High-pitched honking sounds from high above alerted to me a passing flock of Tundra Swans.

Tundra Swans
Tundra Swans

Some botany:

White Mulberry (Morus alba)
Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Cat-tail (Typha)
Crown Galls on Crack Willow
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
White Poplar (Populus alba)

Park views:


I got a note about Redpolls visiting a feeder near High Park. Having only had them at my feeder once in all of the years that I have had a feeder, I was very interested in this. Here is the note I got:

If you would like to stop by the backyard and try to catch them for photos you are more than welcome.  Time obviously varies but I think 9 -9:30 might be prime time for the larger flock though individuals seem to come and go most of the day.  I’m actually going to try to photograph them tomorrow on the niger seed feeder which I keep missing.  

Also I got the white winged scoters this afternoon at Humber Bay Park  though I know you saw them elsewhere about a month ago.  they were quite far out so will head back again to try to get better photos.  Also got a nice coyote there!

I did drop by and saw about 10 Redpolls. Unfortunately this was the best I could do for a photograph:

Common Redpolls

I did see a very close Hairy Woodpecker however:

Hairy Woodpecker (male)
Hairy Woodpecker (male)
Hairy Woodpecker (male)
Hairy Woodpecker (male)
Hairy Woodpecker (male)


The stormy March is come at last,
With wind, and cloud, and changing skies;
I hear the rushing of the blast
That through the snowy valley flies.         – William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “Snowball the Lionhead at Smythe Park: March 2021

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Snowball is beautiful! I used to have pet rabbits, but I didn’t try walking them outside (they were dwarf rabbits anyway, it would have been tricky). I would let them free range outside the cage, but the problem with that is that rabbits–shed pellets. They are also very delicate creatures to keep. I discovered I did far better with dogs, as much as I loved my rabbits.
    It’s wonderful to see birds coming back–the Woodpeckers, Redpolls, etc. The woods here are beautiful, too.
    So many “undiscovered” places in this city. Thank you for introducing them to us, Miles!

  2. Gert Trudel

    Interesting about the Redpolls…I can’t imagine NOT seeing them at the feeders and on the ground stations.( which really means I take the scoop and just throw it all over! ) I have one big mess now that the snow is melting as I have sunflower seeds in the shell as well as hulled. I can’t wait for a snow event because that is the time the redpolls will sit in your hand….in late March , early April.


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