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Wildlife at the Humber Arboretum

With a variety of habitats and the West Humber River serving as a transportation corridor for wildlife, there are many animals that live or travel through the Humber Arboretum grounds. To learn more about local wildlife, have a look at the City of Toronto's Biodiversity Booklet series.

A collage of a raccoon, red squirrel, groundhog, and deer


Mammals come in many shapes and sizes, and are adapted to wide variety of diets and habitats. This is reflected in the mammals found at the Arboretum, who range from large deer to tiny shrews, and include carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. Some of our mammals, like the Eastern grey squirrel, are so common and easy to spot that you might fail to notice how amazing they are. But others are much harder to see - they are nocturnal like the skunk, or spend most of their time underground. 

Here are just some of the mammals that call the Humber Arboretum home:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Eastern coyote
  • Raccoon
  • Eastern grey squirrel
  • American red squirrel
  • Eastern chipmunk
  • Groundhog
  • Eastern cottontail (rabbit)
  • Striped skunk
  • Little brown bat
  • Beaver
  • Mink
  • Virginia opossum (Canada's only marsupial!)

A collage of birds - red-winged blackbird, red-breasted nuthatch, yellow warbler, american robin.


Citizen scientists using eBird have identified over 150 species of birds at the Humber Arboretum, with over 100 found close to the Centre for Urban Ecology. Of course many of those birds were passing through during migration, but any time of year there are a wide variety of birds to see and hear at the Arb. Here are just a few of the commonly seen species: 

  • Black-capped chickadee
  • American robin
  • Mourning dove
  • Blue jay
  • Northern cardinal
  • Mockingbird
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • White-throated, song, house, and American tree sparrows
  • American goldfinch
  • Red-tailed, Cooper's, and broad-winged hawks
  • Downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers
  • Great blue heron
  • Kingfisher
  • Canada goose

During your visit, be sure to drop by the Tranquility Bird Garden to get tips on how to make your outdoor space more bird-friendly.

A collage of a garter snake, american toad, green frog, and painted turtle

Reptiles and Amphibians

Between the garden ponds, the wetlands, the river, and the forest, the Humber Arboretum provides the preferred habitat for a variety of reptiles and amphibians. These include:

  • Snapping turtle
  • Painted turtle
  • Eastern garter snake
  • Dekay's brown snake
  • Green frog
  • Leopard frog
  • American toad

Two small fish in water


The most obvious fish at the Humber Arboretum are the goldfish in the garden ponds - however those fish are pets who were released without permission and their descendants, and are not stocked by the Arboretum (Never release your pets into the wild! Read about goldfish as an invasive species in Ontario

However the West Humber River runs through the Arboretum, and is home to a number of fish. Some species recently observed in the Humber River by our staff include:

  • Johnny darter
  • Orangespotted sunfish
  • Brown bullhead
  • Salmon

The following species were found in the West Humber River watershed north of the Arboretum in 2004 by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, and so are likely candidates to be in the Arb (See TRCA Humber River State of the Watershed Report - Aquatic System 2008 - PDF)

  • Bluntnose minnow
  • Fathead minnow
  • Blacknose dace
  • Longnose dace
  • Creek chub
  • Pumpkinseed
  • White sucker


A collage of insects - a painted lady butterfly, a beetle, a damselfly, a bumblebee, and a grasshopper


Often overlooked by would-be wildlife-watchers, insects offer an amazing opportunity to slow down and look more carefully at the world around you. While you're at the Arboretum, keep your eyes out for countless species of insects from the following families:

  • Butterflies (Black swallowtail - video, painted lady, monarch)
  • Moths (Cecropia - video, orange mint moth)
  • Dragonflies and damselflies (black-tailed darner, common whitetail, ebony jewelwing)
  • Bees and wasps (carpenter bee, ichneumon wasp)
  • Beetles and true bugs (six-spotted tiger beetle, three-eyed click beetle, cicada)
  • Grasshoppers and crickets (Carolina grasshopper, two-striped grasshopper)
  • Flies (house fly, margined calligrapher)
  • Ants

Collage of a crayfish, a snail, and a spider

Other Invertebrates

Insects are invertebrates with six legs - but what about animals that don't have a spine OR six legs? Here are some of the other invertebrates that live at the Arboretum, who are all very different in their habits and habitats:

  • Spiders
  • Snails and slugs 
  • Woodlice
  • Crayfish
  • Freshwater mussels