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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Signs have appeared in the park indicating that mosquito larvae spraying has recently occurred.  The two signs are next to standing water in a ditch adjacent to the path and next to one of the four inner ponds of the wetland complex.  FOSS was concerned, particularly about spraying the wetland ponds, and approached the City for an explanation.

Toronto Public Health responded in this way .......

"Surface water pools are regularly monitored by staff and are only treated once the presence of mosquito larvae is detected.  BTi is used to treat these pools and is a highly specific biological bacterium that kills the larvae within a matter of hours.   This product is not harmful to humans, pets, wildlife and fish.
TPH has two vector borne disease field operators who monitor surface water locations for mosquito breeding.  When a site is identified they conduct larvae dipping to determine the presence of larvae and take samples back to the office to verify vector species for WNv.  When a location is identified that requires treatment, a referral is made to our contracted service provider (Pestalto) for montioring and treatment.  Pestalto holds a permit with the MOE and have licensed applicators to apply the larvicide.  The product used is a biological larvicide (derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria) which breakdown quickly in the environment and are harmless to plants, mammals, fish, birds and insects other than mosquitoes and blackflies.  Please see our website for further information."
Although there appears to be no real danger to the spraying, it seems a little unusual to refer to a wetland pond as a "field pool" and aren't mosquito larvae part of a food chain?  Just saying.


                                                  Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting     
June 22nd, 2015, 8:20 PM, Etobicoke

  • New FOSS web site on line:  - links directly to the blog spot.
  • FOSS thanks “Joe the Grebe Man” from the CSSP Marina for building multiple platforms for nesting Red-necked Grebes.
  • Although fishing is legal in the marina, FOSS requests that all fishers respect the nesting areas of the Red-necked Grebes when casting their lines.
  • Thank you to the Weston Foundation and their Weston Family Parks Challenge for funding: 1. A new FOSS brochure and business cards (now available), 2. A FOSS web site, and 3. New Bird Checklists (now available).
  •  Please report all illegal dumping of yard waste in CSS Park to 311. Additional contact information posted on the FOSSBlog.
  • Call 311 for any off-leash dog infractions. The city’s response is “complaint driven”.
  • Contact FOSS (See Blog) with any ideas for improving the dog park.
  • Many additional trees (including new spring plantings) in CSS Park continue to suffer severe collateral damage from the city’s overzealous grass and weed trimmers.
  • FOSS Membership Renewals: See blog for membership form. Present members are encouraged to renew and individuals on FOSS’s contact list are welcome to join.
  • With the removal of trees for the new Humber College Welcome Centre (HCWC) on Colonel Samuel Smith Drive, FOSS advocates that native trees, not shrubs, be used as replacements and that the location and species be determined by the city’s wildlife/habitat specialist in conjunction with the Forestry Department.
  • FOSS also suggests that the trees be planted in clumps in order to duplicate the habitat that will be lost with the building of the HCWC.
  • FOSS’s suggestions concerning the replacement of trees have received supportive feedback from both Wanda Buote (Principal, Lakeshore Campus) and Hai Nguyen (Planner, Urban Forestry, City of Toronto).
  •  FOSS will provide representation/input related to the development of a planned 200 sq. ft. exhibit space highlightingthe history of the Lakeshore Grounds.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


We finally have milkweed growing in the park!

FOSS volunteers have recently been throwing seeds and planting seedlings in the small meadow on the north side of the path where the "Butterflies of Sam Smith Park" interpretive sign is located.  There are now almost twenty plants growing in and next to the meadow.  Eventually, it is hoped that this area will become a butterfly/pollinator meadow filled with native plants and wildflowers that the insects need to thrive.

The milkweed is especially important to Monarch Butterflies which are found in the park, especially in late summer/early fall where they mass on some of the park's trees before starting their migration journey across the lake.  (See previous FOSS post on this.)  Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape and,
as a consequence, seen a dramatic decline of this species.

Please feel free to plant milkweed in this spot.  There are many websites that show how to collect seeds and germinate them in to seedlings.  Here is just one.  Seedlings can also be purchased from nurseries specializing in native plants.  We have found that using seedlings is the best practice.
By the way, to allay any concerns, Ontario has now removed milkweed from the "noxious weed list".
Other resources ....
Toronto Star article "Plant milkweed and save the Monarchs"
David Suzuki Foundation


Neighbour problems in Sam Smith Park

RNG brooding again with first clutch chick nearby


The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher is one of the smallest regular hosts of the Brown-Headed Cowbird.  The Brown-Headed Cowbird is a “brood parasite” - it lays its eggs in the nests of other small perching birds, particularly those that build cup-like nests like the tiny moss and lichen Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher nest, and the imposter is then faithfully fed and raised by unknowing surrogate parents. Eggs have been documented in nests of at least 220 host species, including hummingbirds and even raptors!  The young cowbird is fed by the host parents at the expense of their own young. Brown-Headed Cowbird females can lay 36 eggs in a season.

Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers regularly breed in Sam Smith Park which
is also home to many Cowbirds.  Cowbirds are often seen in spring in loud groups of males and females.  In the photograph above, recently taken by Brian Bailey in Sam Smith Park, a tiny Gnatcatcher is feeding a lone, enormous Cowbird chick which has almost certainly physically ejected from the nest the Gnatcatchers’ young. The cow bird egg will incubate and hatch in less time than most other birds, and when it hatches the baby cow bird will shove all other eggs or chicks from the nest. The parent Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers will not recognize the hatchling is not their own.

Imagine how angry, confused and sad the parents get when they realize the fledgling they spent all of their energy on isn't even their own!

Cowbirds get their bovine name from the fact that they were once known to follow herds of wandering buffalo (and then domestic cattle) in the grasslands of the central U.S. and Canada, eating insects that came to the surface after being upturned by hooves. Brood parasitism is a successful breeding strategy for birds that are constantly on the move.  As forests were cleared they
expanded eastward.  This species’ spread has represented bad news for other songbirds.  Heavy parasitism by cowbirds has pushed some species to the status of "endangered", particularly woodland warblers, and has probably hurt populations of some others.