Bee

It’s Time to Learn About the Birds and the Bees… Literally!

This spring, we invite you to get up close and personal with some of Ontario’s hardest working creatures. Any idea who we’re talking about? Why, the birds and the bees, of course. Like, literally! The arrival of springtime means that these little buzzers and chirpers are out and about, doing what they do best—which, happily for us here in York Durham Headwaters, means lots of things to see, do, taste and experience. It’s time to get out this spring and learn about the birds and the bees—and why conservation is so important for their health and well being.

Why the birds and the bees are so important

Chickadee

Let’s start with our feathered friends. We all know that birds are as interesting as they are beautiful. Whether it’s the red-headed woodpecker, the brilliant-hued blue jay, or the adorable little black-capped chickadee, it is a delight to watch these little darlings hop and fly about while enjoying the mild spring weather. But birds don’t just exist for us to enjoy watching them, they are vitally important for the health of the environment. For example, did you know that birds assist with seed dispersal? This ensures that our protected natural spaces, from your neighbourhood parkette to entire tracts of lush green forest, continue to thrive. Birds also help with insect and pest control. The next time you see a common flicker pecking away at your grass, be sure to thank them for protecting your lawn from white grubs that would otherwise munch your grass’s tender roots. And bird droppings (while admittedly are not much fun to have to wash off your vehicle’s windshield) are important fertilizers, spreading essential nutrients about for wild and cultivated flora alike. Ensuring that birds have protected habitat so that they can continue to do their important work is crucial—not only for their well being, but ours as well.

Bees, too, play an important ecological role. Honey is an obvious product of the bees’ hard work that we all know and love. But did you know that bees are important pollinators as well? As they go about collecting pollen to bring back to their hive and turn into all that delicious honey, they are helping to spread that pollen from flower to flower, thus propagating plants and allowing them to bear fruit. This isn’t just beneficial for your garden or for those roadside flowers that are pretty to look at—this is an important part of our entire agricultural industry. Remember this the next time you’re at your local farmer’s market, eyeing all that lovely, fresh-grown produce.

Bee on Flower

Now, while it’s tempting to think about the birds and the bees in terms of how they’re beneficial to us, we would be remiss if we didn’t also point out that conservation efforts to protect these fascinating creatures are important for their sake, too. They are sentient creatures in their own right, after all, and as such, they have the right to survive, thrive and be happy. So, if we’ve convinced you that the birds and the bees are pretty special in so many ways, then here are some ideas for how you can get outside this spring to enjoy these winged beauties and all that they do and are.

Go bird watching in YDH at these top spots

Luther Marsh Wildlife Management AreaGrand Valley

Highly regarded as one of the best spots for birding in all of Ontario, this biological treasure is 5.900 hectares of property located on Luther Lake, which was created by the Luther Dam built in 1954. This lake is surrounded by wetlands, fields and forests which provide habitat to many different birds, as well as animals, plants and trees.

Tree

Lynde Shores Conservation AreaWhitby

This is another extremely popular spot for wildlife viewing. Lynde Shores has many looping trails that extend several kilometres. Whether you’re out for a long stroll with your binoculars, or you have little ones with short legs interested in looking at the birdies, there is a trail that is the right length for you. We recommend you try the Chickadee Trail. We’re told that chickadees will actually land on your hand!

Darlington Provincial ParkClarington

This close-to-home provincial park is a favourite for campers, hikers and beach goers. With several nature trails surrounded by forest, you can spend the day with your binoculars enjoying the song and movements of many different species of birds. Make a day of it and bring the family for a picnic.

Family Camping in Darlington

Kortright Centre for ConservationWoodbridge

This 325-hectare tract of pristine woodlands is located just 10 minutes north of Toronto, making it the perfect destination for birding—especially for those looking for peregrine falcons, hawks, owls and other birds of prey. Kortright Centre offers more than 50 environmental education programs for schools, as well as a selection of 30 different sustainable technology workshops for the public, trades and professionals.

There are many more options for birding in and around York Durham Headwaters. Visit the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s website for more wonderful places to observe and learn about these feathered marvels: www.trca.ca/activities/bird-watching/

Learn about bees and get a taste of all their hard work

Ontario Honey CreationsMulmur

Ontario Honey Creations

This family owned and operated beekeeping business specializes in terroir honey, artisanal honey vinegars and meads. Taste the difference that raw and unpasteurized honey makes, and how surrounding flora of different locations affects its flavour. Ontario Honey Creations offers beekeeping experiences, where you get to be a beekeeper for a day. You can also spend time sampling their award-winning mead and bottling your own honey. Ontario Honey Creations offers educational programs for children, and operates the Toronto Bee Rescue, which specializes in the humane removal and relocation of established honeybee colonies and swarms.

Circling Hawk Farm and Ridge MeaderyRichmond Hill

Known for friendly service and pure natural honey and mead, Circling Hawk takes care of the health and wellbeing of the millions of bees it manages, using only ethical beekeeping practices. Taste delicious honey that is created from the wildflowers of the Oak Ridges Moraine—flowers like alfalfa, clover, buckthorn, goldenrod, and many more. Circling Hawk offers farm tours, experiences for learning to bee keep, and there is also mead tasting at their farm store.

Villa Vida LocaSunderland

This weekend market features a variety of local produce, fresh baked goods, and artisanal products—including locally produced honeys from farms in the community. With wholesome eats and glamping cabins for a rustic getaway, you’ll love everything this place has to offer. Step into Villa Vida Loca’s enchanting pollinator garden and watch honeybees and vibrant blooms create a symphony of colour and life. Villa Vida Loca is passionate about nurturing biodiversity and preserving the delicate balance of our ecosystem.

3Beez.buzz at Our Valley View Bed & BreakfastEnniskillen

This third-generation honey farm produces raw, unpasteurized, natural honey the way the bees intended. Come for some honey to take home with you and be sure to make an appointment for an up-close and personal tour. Here, you can learn all about worker bees and how they create the liquid gold that we all love so much.

Applewood Farm WinerySunderland

Applewood Farm
Applewood Farm Honey
Applewood Farm Winery

For over 23 years, Applewood has been producing award-winning fruit wines, cider and mead made from fruit and honey harvested right on the farm. Visit for a taste of mead and pick up a jar or two of homegrown honey to take with you. Don’t forget to check out all the other unique things at this farm market store, and to sample the delights of Applewood’s fruit wine and cider.

Check out this beautifully illustrated map below to find a location near you to get up-close and personal with some of Ontario’s hardest working creatures.

Birds and Bees Map

Katherine Ryalen is a freelance writer and author based in Durham Region. Visit her online at www.katherineryalen.com.

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