Warbler Woods Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) is located in west London between Commissioners Road and Byron Baseline Road. The publicly-owned lands cover 29 hectares. Warbler Woods ESA forms part of a continuous natural corridor extending north to Kains Woods ESA.
The rolling hills and steep ravines of Warbler Woods create a scenic area for hiking, bird watching, and nature appreciation. The upland deciduous forest is particularly beautiful in the spring when it is carpeted with trilliums, trout lilies and other early-blooming plants.
The map on the reverse side shows the 10 access points and trail system. The main access is on Commissioners Road near the Oxford Street extension.
There are 3.9 kms of trails in the ESA. The main trail, which extends the length of the site from access points 1 to 8, is about 1.8 km long. The trails are somewhat challenging with several steep sections. The land is well-drained so rarely muddy. The managed trails are marked with yellow blazes on the trees. The Thames Valley Trail follows the trail from access points 1 to 5, with white blazes.
An archaeological excavation uncovered the remains of a pre-seventeenth century Neutral Indian summer camp. The artifacts indicate that the woods were used for hunting, and that fishing took place in the former ponds.
Warbler Woods, named for the uncommon Golden-winged Warbler that once nested in the area, has been a favourite birding spot over the last one hundred years. Although much diminished by housing developments, the remaining deciduous woodland still contains a diverse flora and fauna.
Shaping the Landscape
Warbler Woods covers the eastern slope of a steep hill at the western end of the Ingersoll Moraine. The moraine is a mix of silt, sand and stony soil (till) that was deposited by a melting glacier about 13,000 years ago. In places silt and clay layers from glacial Lake London cover these deposits. The hillside has been eroded by creeks and mudslides, forming steep slopes and ravines.
This ESA is an upland deciduous forest that contains over 250 species of trees and flowering plants. North and south-facing slopes produce a diverse flora with both northern elements and more southern, or Carolinian, affinities.
In the spring the higher ground is covered with Bloodroot, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, White and Red Trillium, Mayapple, violets, Wild Geranium, Columbine and False Solomon’s Seal.
Mature trees of many species can be found. On drier ground, look for White and Red Oaks, Sugar Maple, Butternut, Black Cherry, Ironwood (Hop-hornbeam), and White Pine. In the moist ravines there are many species of ferns, horsetails and club mosses growing underneath Red Maple, Basswood, and White Birch. Between 2000 and 2007 the Hickory Bark Beetle killed a large number of Bitternut and Shagbark Hickories in the site and surrounding area.
Warbler Woods is a good birding area, especially during spring and fall migrations. Nesting species have included Indigo Bunting, Great Crested Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.
The animal life is typical of the London area. Species observed include Grey Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Eastern Cottontail, Red Fox, White-tailed Deer, Meadow Jumping Mouse, Raccoon and Woodchuck.
Eastern Gartersnake, Dekay’s Brownsnake, Gray Treefrog, American Toad, and three species of salamander have been seen.