Sunnybrook Forest and a Personal Story: July 2021

Under the thick canopy in Sunnybrook Forest, there aren’t many colourful plants.

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
King Devil (Hieracium piloselloides)
Hawthorn (Crataegus)
King Devil (Hieracium piloselloides)
Inky Cap Mushrooms
young American Beech with former carvings


I will identify it at the end of the post.

But at the edge of the forest, where the sun can reach, there is an abundance of colour.

False Solomon-seal (Maianthemum racemosum)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Canada Thistle (Cirsium pratense)
Curled Dock (Rumex crispus)
Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)
Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)
Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)
Chickweed (Stellaria graminea)
Buckhorn (Plantago lanceolata)
False Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis muralis)
White Campion (Silene latifolia)
Field Sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis)
Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola)
Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatis)
Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)
White Clover (Trifolium arvense)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Yellow Avens (Geum aleppicum)
White Spruce (Picea glauca)
Purple-flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus)
Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium)
Timothy (Phleum pratense)


I have had bird feeders for most of my adult life and make a point of keeping them clean and well-stocked. A few evenings ago, I was sitting in a second floor room when I noticed a House Sparrow land on the outside window ledge and give, what appeared to me, to be a nasty glare. I have never seen a bird land there before and immediately thought “It’s trying to tell me something. Could it be that the bird feeder is empty?” At this time of year, House Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds are constantly visiting it with their hungry chicks. The youngsters stand on top fluttering with their beaks open and a lot of food is taken. No, I thought, that is giving our feathered friends a little too much intelligence. Would this little creature actually fly to each window in the house searching for me knowing that I am their great provider? Downstairs and into the garden I went. Indeed, the feeder was empty … but not for long.


The short and thin needles indicate that this is a Hemlock.

Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)


I love thee, Nature, with a boundless love!
The calm of earth, the storm of roaring woods!
The winds breathe happiness where’er I rove!
There’s life’s own music in the swelling floods! – John Clare (1793 – 1864)

Miles Hearn

5 thoughts on “Sunnybrook Forest and a Personal Story: July 2021

  1. Michael Greenstein

    I don’t have any feeders on my property, but a House Sparrow was talking to me through a closed window on my second floor. It stayed and looked at me for a while, a stranger but perhaps not.

  2. Wendy Trueman

    I’ve had that experience with house sparrows too. A few of them will line up on the fence and chirp at me as I walk by. (I hear it as a “demanding” chirp and I swear they’re glaring too.) During the dry period this spring I was making sure the birdbath had ample water for sips & baths. Same thing. If I dared to let it dry up inadvertently, one or two would perch on the edge and let me know about it. They’re the most hilarious birds!

  3. Lisa Volkov

    I got the mystery plant!
    It’s just wonderful how animals can communicate with people. I know one thing for sure–my pooch sure lets me know when he wants a treat! Seems that birds know how to demand food, too!
    Wonderful woods, wonderful flowers. Thanks, Miles–and thanks for the great story, too!

  4. Gail

    Three years ago the Sunnybrook forest was only the domain of the occasional dog and master but it has become an escape and pleasure for many. There are many accents and picnic people ( and sadly, more litter)! But the trail is lovely in the early morning and it can’t be beaten in the autumn for fall colours.

    I envy you your window visitor, Miles. Two months ago there was a drastic reduction of variety and number of birds at my feeders. I assumed it was the appearance of four or five European starlings. Then Two weeks ago I watched as a brave woodpecker was smashed into by a huge hawk and subsequently chased in a circuitous way round and round the garden stand of giant maple trees shaving off leaves etc… it was shocking and I hope the woodpecker escaped. Now there is no bird song in the morning or ever and no visitors to the feeders. So strange! But I have seen many hawks flying low through the North Toronto neighbourhood with a sense of ownership. I wonder if other people have had a similar experience.

    Another reason to look forward to October and your nature walks, Miles!

  5. jill

    If we ever dare to let the birdfeeders get empty, the sparrows line up on the window ledge, chirping like crazy and glaring at us!


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