Toronto Bird Celebration: Birds you love to hate

Birds you love to hate

Join an expert panel as they aim to convince you that pigeons, Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-Billed Gulls, and Red-winged Blackbirds: four common, but underappreciated Toronto birds deserve your love. Pose your questions, vote to select the most lovable bird, and learn some fun facts about birds you see every day.


All are welcome - no need to be a member of OFO. Register Now!

The Panel

Sarah Rupert - Moderator

Sarah is a birder, naturalist, artist, and graphic designer, who is the Promotional Officer at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ontario. A lifelong birder, Sarah has worked on Species at Risk (SAR) assessments, contributed to multi-species action plans, and manages the bird records and bird species list for the park. Sarah presents frequently on birding, nature journalling, and art.

Gail Fraser - Defending Double-Crested Cormorants

Gail Fraser is a professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University, where she teaches ecology and conservation science to non-science students. Fraser has worked on colonial nesting waterbirds for over two-decades: a MSc (North Dakota State University) on Forster’s terns; a PhD (Memorial University of Newfoundland) on crested auklets (in the Aleutian Islands) and other field studies on thick-billed murres, Leach’s storm petrels and Manx shearwaters in Newfoundland and Labrador. Currently, Fraser is working on double-crested cormorants and black-crowned night-herons in Ontario where she runs a long-term monitoring program at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto. She undertakes a wide variety of projects and is currently collaborating with artist Cole Swanson on cormorants and colour.

Ankur Khurana - Defending Red-winged Blackbirds

Ankur is a tenacious advocate of environmental justice who has traveled the world to photograph wildlife. He has a 9-year old son who is also an avid birder. Ankur has been photographing birds for a decade now and it is his love for birds that led him to the field of conservation. He currently works with Credit Valley Conservation as an environmental communications professional. Before this, he has worked as a writer and editor with many organizations, including the United Nations. He has also done photography workshops with Birds Canada and The Atmospheric Fund.

Lynne Freeman - Defending Rock Pigeons

Lynne has been a birder for over thirty years. She is President of the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO), a provincial birding organization dedicated to the study and appreciation of birds in Ontario. She serves on the Toronto Ornithological Club (TOC) council and is a volunteer field naturalist for the TRCA. Before retiring, Lynne spent many years working in an office tower in downtown Toronto. There, she watched generations of pigeons nesting on the building’s ledges and became a committed pigeon fan.

Ian Shanahan and Doug MacRae - Defending Ring-billed Gulls

Ian is a Renaissance Man with a wide range of passions. Ian is first and foremost a naturalist. Ian worked as a naturalist at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, a Species at Risk surveyor at Charleston Lake, and a naturalist at Algonquin Provincial Park. Ian has been actively involved with the Ontario Field Ornithologists for many years. He is the editor of the environmental education magazine Green Teacher and a staff naturalist at Shrew Solutions, a nature consulting company in Brighton, Ontario.

Doug has been fortunate to turn his lifelong fascination with nature into an exciting and varied career involving research studies, biological inventories, guiding, consulting, and education. His work has involved extensive international travel, especially during his 20 years as a senior guide with North America’s top-ranked bird tour company, Field Guides Inc. Doug has published extensively in newspapers, scientific, and popular journals, and currently authors the Weekly Bird Report for Presqu’ile area. He is a Director of the Lone Pine Land Trust, a group that acquires and manages land within the Cold Creek watershed.

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The Toronto Bird Celebration, coordinated by Birds Canada is a month-long celebration of the birds which breed and migrate through Toronto. Check out event schedule at for many fantastic presentations.

Double-crested Cormorant Double-crested Cormorant Brian Morin

Red-winged Blackbird Red-winged Blackbird Brandon Holden

Rock Pigeon Rock Pigeon Brandon Holden

Ring-billed Gull Ring-billed Gull Francine Ouellette