March Break: Your Urban Wildlife Adventure


Toronto-based wildlife filmmaker Julian Victor, shares his tips for spotting wildlife, even in busy cities.

Pictured: A white squirrel. © Julian Victor

It’s March break and a great time of year to get outdoors and enjoy nature. What better way for kids and families to celebrate the turn of the seasons, than to seek out wildlife in urban areas. Here is how to get started!

Where to spot them.

City parks, parkettes, public gardens and even your backyard can be perfect wildlife spots. Lakes, marshes, ponds and rivers are great places to find many species of water birds.

Don’t forget to look up! Buildings, street signs, trees and lamp posts are favourite hangouts for squirrels, hawks and even vultures and owls.

Believe it or not, cemeteries are a very unlikely and surprising places to see wildlife. But, they’re quiet, peaceful and people visiting are somber and less likely to disturb wildlife.

Pictured: A deer. © Julian Victor

Pictured: A deer in a cemetary. © Julian Victor

When to see them.

Most animals prefer cooler and quieter periods during the day. The best time to see wildlife is early morning or late evening.

These are the best times to photograph animals too because of the great natural light. In the film industry, we call it Magic Hour!

Become a tracker.

Always keep an eye out for footprints in mud or snow patches. Search for feathers and holes in tree trunks.

Watch out for animal droppings…but try not to step in the poop!

Pictured: An owl in a tree. © Julian Victor

Pictured: An owl in a tree. © Julian Victor

Get Your Tech.

E-bird” and “INaturalist” are great apps to identify animals and they provide maps for hotspots.

Check your local park’s websites for nature walks and events. Many also list what animals you can expect to find.

In Your Backpack.

Here’s a list of what I always have with me:

  • Binoculars
  • Camera (A phone will do)
  • Proper clothes for the weather (Check the forecast)
  • Healthy snacks
  • Water

Respect the Wildlife.

DON'T FEED or BAIT WILD ANIMALS! It can alter their behaviour and be harmful to both the wildlife and you. Minimize your disturbance and leave everything the way you found it.

Stay a respectable distance. Getting too close can put stress on the animals.

Be respectful to other nature seekers and keep locations discreet when posting on social media. Public posts of urban wildlife can attract unwanted crowds seeking to get photos of seldom-seen species.

Pictured: An urban fox. © Julian Victor

Pictured: An urban fox. © Julian Victor

Time for Adventure!

Now that you’re equipped with these tips, you’re ready to go! Always get your parent's permission before starting to explore, or better yet, take the whole family with you. Be prepared, stay safe, and have fun.

Remember, wildlife is everywhere and this March Break, your Urban Wildlife Adventure, will be a uniquely rewarding experience.

Hear more from Julian!