Search This Blog

Monday, October 26, 2015


At this time of the year, small birds, especially goldfinches, get tangled up in burdock seed heads.

clinging burs that were not only the inspiration for Velcro - See more at:
Goldfinches are accustomed to perching on the large heads to eat. As long as only their feet touch the burs they are okay, but, when feathers brush against a hooked bur, the small bird's strength is not sufficient to get free from the tenacious plant.  The plant employs a hook-and-loop system to latch seed heads onto passers-by for dispersal and was the inspiration for Velcro.  

In many parts of Canada, burdock is considered a noxious weed and is eradicated where possible.  In Toronto, because of the danger to birds, there is currently a volunteer effort being organized by the Toronto Ornithological Club and TRCA to remove burdock.

 We have some patches of burdock growing in Sam Smith Park, especially on the outer headlands near the beavers' winter lodge.  On your walks, keep a look out for trapped birds and please attempt to gently release them.


Colonel Sam Smith Park Wetland Lookout Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Fall Tree Planting 
October 24, 2015

Despite overcast skies and the constant threat of rain, over 40 volunteers/supporters attended the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Wetland Lookout in Colonel Sam Smith Park.

The lookout was constructed with funds obtained from a grant provided by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Representatives from the foundation and from the parks department spoke briefly and thanked the volunteers from such groups as FOSS and CCFEW for their dedication and interest in the well being of the park.

After completion of the official ribbon cutting ceremony, volunteers of all ages planted a variety of native shrubs that included Serviceberry, Sandbar Willow, Meadow Rose and American Larch. Heavier rain began falling by the noon hour--just in time to water all the new plantings!

From the City of Toronto's Parks website .....

"Through this project, local residents can connect better with wildlife, nature and this beautiful park. On behalf of the community, I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the other partners and sponsors who have made this possible," said Councillor Mark Grimes.  
The Weston Family Parks Challenge is encouraging strong partnerships to ensure Toronto's green spaces have a bright and vibrant future. This project is a shining example of how diverse partners can come together to create lasting change in our city parks," said Camilla Dalglish, Director of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
The structure was constructed using funds from a $124,000 grant through the Weston Family Parks Challenge, which is an initiative of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation in collaboration with the Ontario Trillium Foundation and administered by Toronto Park People.
The project also included the installation of turtle-basking logs in the wetland, planting of native trees, shrubs and wetland plants by volunteers, nature-programming, installation of a bird feeder station, and bird feeder kits for the Annual Spring Bird Festival.

The Weston Family Parks Challenge is supporting the Humber Arboretum's Colonel Sam Smith Park Improvements and Programs. This project brings together diverse partners to improve wetland habitat and create a new outdoor classroom. Environmental programs and stewardship opportunities will connect youth and community members to nature by raising awareness of the importance of providing and maintaining natural areas for birds and other wildlife. Public, private and non-profit partnerships will ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, enhancing one of Toronto's most popular birding destinations for future generations."