Backyard Birds

Kyle Blaney talks about birds at the recent Tweed Hort meeting.

Kyle Blaney, an avid birdwatcher from Belleville was the guest speaker at the March meeting of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society. 

Kyle is on personal mission to identify 50 species of birds in Canada’s 290eBird regions. Over the years, he has contributed 6500 eBird photographs and 7700 iNaturalist observations. His images have been published in Canadian Geographic as well as in birding magazines in Canada and the United States. 

During the presentation, Kyle used his photos to show some birds that might visit our birdfeeders. He also gave advice about their favourite food as well as recordings of their sounds. His presentation included…Mourning Dove, Downy woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Purple Finch Black Capped Chickadee to mention just a few. 

According to Kyle, bird migration is fascinating as some birds travel from the Arctic to Antarctica in a zig zag route across the map.

Kyle explained that through citizen science namely, iNaturalist, you can post a photo of any living thing, where you saw it, add some audio if available and amateurs and experts who follow these pages will reply to help with identification. You can use eBird in a similar fashion…note this site is for bird identification only. 

By using these two resources, Kyle plans his outings to the various areas. eBird also helps him plan what he might see in an area on the days he plans to visit. 

Sewage lagoons are a spectacular place for bird watching since they don’t freeze over during the winter months. Although the Tweed lagoon is not accessible, it does have great bird watching sightings with the trees that surround the lagoon 

As Kyle pointed out, it is always a surprise what birds will visit our . gardens. By naturalizing our yards, we are inviting birds to be guests on our property.

Contact info for Kyle…

Instagram at @kblaney   

Kyle Blaney ( 

Upcoming Events:

April 4 Meeting… Aric from Earth Haven Biodynamics in Thomasburg will be the guest speaker. Aric will talk about how their produce baskets can be purchased. He will share how they operate and grow their produce naturally. 

April 11…Zoom Executive Meeting

April 29…District 3 Meeting in Bancroft

May 20…Plant Sale 

July 21-23…OHA Convention in Kanata

Backyard Birds

Our March meeting will feature guest speaker Kyle Blaney talking about birds you might find in your backyard.

Kyle uses his photographs to show a sample of birds that might show up at your bird feeder, with advice about their favourite food and behaviour, as well as recordings of their sounds. He also explains how he uses citizen science projects eBird and iNaturalist to help plan birding vacations. Kyle’s insights will encourage you to connect with the fascinating world of birding in your own backyard and beyond.

Kyle Blaney ( is an avid birdwatcher from Belleville on a mission to identify 50 species in all of Canada’s 290 eBird regions. He is a data analyst for Shad Canada (, a non-profit that provides unique youth experiences. Kyle is a strong believer in citizen science, having contributed 6500 eBird photographs and 7700 iNaturalist observations. His images have been published in Canadian Geographic and birding magazines in Canada and the United States. He can be followed on Instagram at @kblaney.

Making a Birdhouse

Linda Yorke (left) helps Julie build a birdhouse.

Members of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society enthusiastically welcomed Linda Yorke as their first speaker of 2023.

Linda, The Carpenter-Her was raised on a farm near the village of Belhaven which is located between Keswick and Sutton. She has alwayshad a love for nature and started building birdhouses when she retired. 

Linda displayed several different kinds of birdhouses as the style depends on the birds you want to attract. One member of the audience who said she does not do any woodworking became Linda’s assistant and with Linda’s guidance, a generic birdhouse was constructed during the meeting.

A couple of key points…

-the entrance hole needs to be a double thickness of wood or use a metal covering to prevent squirrels from chewing the wood to get the birds

-drainage is necessary…a door that opens will help and this makes for easy cleaning in the fall

-baby birds have an easier time leaving the house if the interior wall below the opening is “roughed up” a bit

-to obtain good ventilation, make small notches in the corners and drill holes in the top edge of the birdhouse

-perches are optional but they can encourage predators

-place the houses 5-10 feet high and facing away from prevailing winds

-houses can be left natural or painted with water-based paint and Varathane

– suggested wood was Number 3 Pine which tends to have a few more knots…but the birds do not seem to mind this as long as the wood is solid

Birdhouses are a great way to rid your yard of unwanted bugs…bluebirds’ diet consists of 70% insects, barn owls 75% and house wren 98%. Two birds you do not want are the starling and house sparrow as they are invasive and take over all the best spots as they nest earlier than the other birds in the spring. 

Linda suggested several resources…

-eBird and Merlin Bird ID (app)

-Field Guide of Birds of Eastern Regions (book) -European-starlings

Linda’s “assistant” was presented with the birdhouse she constructed with Linda’s assistance! As Linda said, “A birdhouse is a wonderful addition to any garden.”

Members received instructions to make a generic birdhouse as was demonstrated during the meeting. And since the March meeting’s speaker will be discussing birds in our backyards, many members will probably get started constructing birdhouses to welcome birds in to their yards!

Upcoming Events:

March 7….Kyle Blaney will be speaking about Birds in our Backyard.

How To Build A Birdhouse

Linda Yorke

Linda Yorke, of The Carpent-Her, will join us at our Feb. 7 meeting to discuss building a birdhouse. Meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Library.

In her own words:

My name is Linda Yorke, The Carpent-Her.  I was raised on a farm north of Toronto between Keswick and Sutton in a little village called Belhaven.   I’ve always had a love for the land and nature.  I started building birdhouses as a way to keep myself busy after retirement.

Success of your birdhouse depends on the design of your nesting box as it relates to the species you are trying to attract.  Take for example a chickadee vs a Hairy WoodPecker.

We will cover how to build a basic birdhouse. What is important to the health and safety of the bird.  What are the most important features to include in your design to keep our feathered friends safe and healthy.  What tools are required.  Where to hang the birdhouse, how high, which way should it face and when to clean.

Building your own nesting box and seeing a family move in to raise a family is so rewarding.  A birdhouse is a wonderful addition to any garden.

Let’s learn how to build a birdhouse!

Year End Celebrations

It looked like Christmas when members arrived at the December meeting of the Tweed and District Horticultural meeting…. bright red tablecloths on the tables with poinsettias and smiling snowmen decorations! So festive!!!

And the meeting was all about celebrating…. not only the upcoming holiday season but members of the club.

2022 was declared the Year of the Garden and our “Garden Hero” for the year was Elizabeth Churcher. Elizabeth works with our club, the St Andrew’s Church gardenand the Gateway Community Health Centre’s garden. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Valerie Foran (left) vice-president of Tweedhort presents Elizabeth Churcher with her “Garden Hero: award.

Members received pins from the Horticultural Society for their service to the club.  A very special congratulations to Ray and Jean Clark for their 35 years of service! Linda Holmes, Penny Vance and Darlene Elson received their 25-year pins. Congratulations to the members who received their 20, 15,10 and 5 year pins…. the club would not be able to function without your support.

Joan Morton (left) presents Darlene Elson (centre) and Linda Holmes with their 25 year membership pins.

Linda Holmes presented her annual multimedia presentation about the yearly Horticultural activities in Tweed…. gardens, meetings speakers, activities and this year she incorporated the history of the organization into the presentation. Thank you, Linda for all your work in preparing this as it is always enjoyed by the members. 

Finally, it was time to play the favourite Christmas game…Quarter Frenzy. Valerie and Elizabeth did a wonderful job showcasing the prizes and encouraging everyone to keep on bidding! Lots of laughter and smiles were evident as members bid on the variety of prizes…..award winning garlic, honey, bath salts, maple syrup, garden décor and lots of chocolates!!!!

Hands go up for bidding as Valerie and Elizabeth start the quarter frenzy auction.

To finish the evening, a draw was held for the many poinsettias….and more smiles as winners collected their poinsettias to take home. 

The meeting was a great way to start the holiday season with our gardening friends. 

Wishing all members and their families a joyous holiday season and best wishes for 2023!

NOTE: First meeting for 2023 will be Tuesday February 7 @7pm at the Tweed Library. Annual memberships will be available. Guest speaker will be Linda Yorke of The Carpent-Her birdhouses.

A Couple’s Life with Nature

Tweed and District Horticultural Society’s November meeting was brimming with information for the members. Brad King, a director from District 3 Ontario Horticultural Association along with members, Elizabeth Churcher and George Thomson were guest speakers.

Brad highlighted the work that the OHA does for its members…insurance rates, liability issues, grants, conventions, programs and fundraising. Volunteer hours from all 267 societies in Ontario are used  to obtain funds for the OHA from the government. He stressed the importance of submitting these hours annually….and as we all know, gardeners are always volunteering!! Brad also installed the slate of officers for the 2023 Executive.

Brad King, District 3 Ontario Horticultural Association Director speaks at the Tweed annual general meeting.

Elizabeth and George, both active members of the Tweed HorticulturalSociety shared their slide presentation, “Making Friends with Nature”.The couple spends a lot of their time in nature and in their garden. Their personal goal is to always try to learn more about nature to develop a deeper understanding of it. Their slide presentation highlighted the many ways they both enjoy and respect nature.

Elizabeth was immersed in nature starting as an infant as she was born and raised on a 130 acre farm just outside of Bancroft. She had “nature’s garden” just outside her door! As a child she was always exploring plants, birds and animals. Her mother was an avid gardener and Elizabeth admitted that she learned so much from her. As an educator, Elizabeth always tried to instill the love of nature in her students.

Elizabeth Churcher and George Thomson.

George, on the other hand was born and raised in Toronto near Dufferin Street and St Clair Ave…he definitely did not have “nature’s garden” outside his door. His outdoor experiences as a child were family outings to Balm Beach and Lake Simcoe  where he was intrigued by the clams, crayfish and other fish. George always had an interest in wildlife, birds, insects and aquatic life. George attended the Ontario Agricultural College where he was able to truly connect with nature.

George and Elizabeth are involved in many projects that support nature…building bluebird boxes on their property, reporting bird sightings to various organizations in Canada, completing amphibian and reptile surveys, using the fields on their property to allow birds like the bobolinkand eastern meadow lark to nest, and driving for Sandy Pines, an organization that helps animals injured in the wild.

Their love of nature is seen in their gardens as they grow plants to support nature, for example pollinator gardens for the bees. They have an extensive veggie garden….onions, tomatoes, beans, potatoes garlic, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, squash, zucchini, carrots plus a raspberry patch where Elizabeth picked 90 quarts of berries during the summer of 2022! 

The couple is sharing this love of nature within their local community. They volunteer at their church which has numerous vegetable gardens. This year 650 pounds of fresh vegetables were donated to the Tweed Food Bank. Elizabeth was instrumental in writing and obtaining funds to start this garden on the church property.

By writing a weekly column for the local paper, The Tweed News, the couple shares their passion about nature with a wide audience. 

And according to Elizabeth and George, the best part of all their hard work is taking a moment to sit back and truly appreciate the wonders of nature!

Next Meeting…December 6 @ 7pm; more information about the program to follow

Some Fall Bouquets

The creative juices were flowing at the October 4th meeting of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society. Linda Holmes, a member of the group guided the members as they created a Harvest Pumpkin planter. The tables and even the floor were covered with flowers and foliage to use in the planters…hosta leaves, sedum, hydrangea, zinnias, rudbeckia, ornamental grasses plus much more!!!

To start, the members, cut a hole in their pie sized pumpkin and then cleaned out the seeds etc.…. definitely the yucky part of the process! Next a plastic cup was placed in the pumpkin shell with some wet oasis…making sure that the oasis was a bit above the edge of the cup. Then the fun started…. gathering materials to use in the planter…. lots of chatter as members helped each other and admired each other’s work. The pumpkin lid was attached using a floral pick.

 Special thanks to Linda for her guidance throughout the class….her “students” were thrilled with their final results!

November 1st Meeting

The guest speakers will be George Thomson and Elizabeth Churcher who will share their life’s journey in Nature’s Garden. They will discuss how they support and live in harmony with their natural world.

First Meeting in Forever!!

Tweed and District Horticultural Society held its first meeting since the pandemic on Sept 7 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church’s community garden. Elizabeth Churcher, a member of both the church and the horticultural society spoke about the community garden.

According to Elizabeth, the Environmental Team at the church applied for a New Horizon’s Grant to establish the garden. They received just over $12,000.

The garden serves many purposes in the community…

  • to provide food for pollinators and people in the community
  • to serve as a teaching garden
  • to provide a relaxing place in the community to visit, find peace and enjoy the garden

Once the grant was received, garden structures were built, seeds were ordered and started. From May to October the garden was planted and maintained.

Fresh produce from the garden is delivered to the local food bank.

In the fall, seeds are collected and sorted to start the planning for next year’s garden.

Some photos from the garden…….

We’re Back!!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

Tweed & District Horticultural Society

Returns with 1st Fall Outdoor Meeting Following Covid


St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Community Garden

55 Victoria St. N, Tweed

Elizabeth Churcher, member of both the horticultural society and St. Andrews will lead a tour of the garden giving details about the vegetable and pollinator sections along with stories about activities in the garden. Everyone Welcome. Free Admission. Bring a chair