Media/Photo Op Advisory - Festival Goers Look Beyond the Binoculars at Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival

    - Bird Conservation, Biodiversity and Bird Education a Focus at Annual
    Event at Internationally Acclaimed Bird Area -

    TORONTO, May 20 /CNW/ - It's not every day you get to look a Broad-winged
Hawk straight in the eye, see a Turkey Vulture strike a pose or watch a Great
Horned Owl from only a few feet away. Those are just a few things that make
the ninth annual Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival special. It's also
an opportunity for residents to learn how to save the songbirds and a chance
to visit Tommy Thompson Park (TTP), a unique urban wilderness, selected as a
globally Important Bird Area by Birdlife International in 2000. Birdwatching
is also one of the fastest-growing outdoor hobbies. It's easy, inexpensive and
relaxing. Best of all, wild birds are fascinating to watch and listen to, and
with more than 315 bird species in Toronto alone, there is something for
everyone. Participants at this year's event include Ontario Nature and guest
speaker and birdathoner Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, Author of Silence of the

    WHEN:     May 23, 2009, open to everyone and FREE!

    WHAT:     Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival Live bird
              demonstrations by University of Guelph Wildlife Education and
              Environmental Programs (WEEP); guided hikes to view bird
              colonies; live bird banding demonstrations; invasive species
              removal; children's activities: scavenger hunt, birdbox
              building; interpretive displays on bird conservation, habitat
              restoration, wetland ecosystems, and healthy yards; and various
              bird viewing areas throughout the park.

    WHERE:    Tommy Thompson Park, at the foot of Leslie Street, south of
              Lake Shore Blvd East. Free parking is available at the TTP
              parking lot or on Unwin Avenue and Leslie Street. Shuttle buses
              run throughout the festival area. Private vehicles and pets are
              not permitted in the park.

    TIMES:    7:00 am - 8:30 am - Birding for Beginners Early Bird Hike,
              leaving every 30 minutes from the front gate. Please register
              for hikes at 416-661-6600 ext. 5770 or
              7:00 am - 11:30 am - Bird Banding Demonstrations at the Tommy
              Thompson Park Bird Research Station (TTPBRS)
              8:00 am - 4 pm - Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival
              10:00 am - 2 pm - University of Guelph WEEP
              11:30 am - 12:00 pm Guest speakers: Bridget Stutchbury, author
              of Silence of the Songbirds and Caroline Schultz, Executive
              Director of Ontario Nature.

    "Since we opened in 2003 volunteers and staff at TTPBRS banded more than
32,000 birds and the number of bird species seen at TTP has actually increased
slightly, which is amazing," said Karen McDonald, Project Manager, Toronto and
Region Conservation. "Of the 316 species, more than 65 are known to breed
here. We've spotted birds rarely seen in Toronto including a Northern Hawk Owl
and a Snowy Egret. The sightings of these species are a good sign that the
parks habitats can support a diverse mix of bird species."
    The park is situated in the largest area of existing natural habitat on
the central Toronto waterfront on a peninsula that extends five kilometres
into Lake Ontario. The park has been colonized by an impressive variety of
plant and animal communities, and is the site of choice for migrating birds,
butterflies and nesting colonial waterbirds. The Toronto and Region
Conservation (TRCA) owns the land and water bodies at Tommy Thompson Park and
is dedicated to the understanding, protection, and awareness of birds in
    "Ontario Nature is thrilled to be part of this year's Spring Bird
Festival, which launches its new action and education program connecting kids
with nature through nature-based recreation and hands-on conservation
experiences," said Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature. "With
the support of Ontario Power Generation, the program will feature 10 family
events in urban centres across the province in the course of the summer and
fall of 2009. These events will help give the wonder of nature back to
Ontario's children and foster the next generation of nature lovers to care for
and speak out for wild species and wild spaces. Thanks to TRCA and Tommy
Thomson Park for inviting Ontario Nature to be part of this great annual
    Tommy Thompson Park Bird Festival is part of the International Migratory
Bird Day that occurs in North America, and Central America. Visitors will also
get a chance to participate in the TTPBRS annual Baillie Birdathon where
birdathoners tally as many species as possible in a 24-hour period or sponsor
this year's guest birdathoner, Bridget Stutchbury. Birdathoners are sponsored
on a flat rate or on a per species basis. TTPBRS will receive up to 90 per
cent of the funds raised to support the operating costs and the programs
offered at the station. The remaining fund will go towards Bird Studies Canada
or their national and international conservation efforts. Since participating
in the birdathon in 2006 more than $40,000 was raised and at least 80 people
have gotten to help conservation efforts, and learn more about birds while
having fun. Past birdathoners include: gardening expert Mark Cullen and
science journalist Bob McDonald.

    Toronto and Region Conservation

    With over 50 years of experience, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA)
helps people understand, enjoy and look-after the natural environment. Our
vision is for The Living City(R), where human settlement can flourish forever
as part of nature's beauty and diversity. For more information, call
416-661-6600 or visit us at or

For further information:

For further information: For media information and registration contact:
Rowena Calpito, Supervisor, Media Management, Toronto and Region Conservation,
T: (416) 661-6600 ext 5632; C: (416) 358-3446, E:

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