South Eastern Ontario is a paradise for fans of feathered friends. Grab your binoculars, field guide and camera to discover some unique spots for birding in South Eastern Ontario!
Venture towards Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area to experience untamed wildlife and bountiful birds. Located about 20 km southeast of Picton, it’s a sprawling 518-hectare park that provides crucial habitat of grassland, forest, and wetland which is home to many species. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory is a migration research station at Prince Edward Point, that also conducts research to monitor and observe population. The organization is also a caretaker to the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area. Both areas are publically accessible and even operate trails which are open all year round.
The Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary near Morrisburg is wild – literally. Immerse yourself in 9,000 hectares of wildlife habitat and be rewarded with seeing diverse bird species in one place. The sanctuary offers self-guided hiking trails and nature awareness programs, complete with an interpretive centre that features informative displays. Take the birding experience a step further here and stay in the Robin’s Roost: a tree-top cabin that sleeps six people – complete with a wrap-around deck. Imagine unwinding in this oasis, dining outdoors and trying to spot as many of the 150 bird species as possible!
The St. Lawrence River is a spectacular draw for waterfowl throughout all seasons, but especially during migration. From Bald Eagles to Osprey, to many species of ducks, herons, and even loons, the river and islands provides the right balance of water, land and food to make Thousand Islands National Park between Gananoque and Brockville a veritable channel for migrating birds. Watch water birds on land from viewing areas along the 1,000 Islands Parkway, near Ivy Lea and the park’s visitor centre at Mallorytown Landing. Traverse the river by boat, kayak or SUP to one of the park’s islands and get up close and personal with some unique species!
Mac Johnson Wildlife Area is a special place that’s just north of Brockville but surrounded by nature. It includes more than 500 hectares of wetland, field and forest – and is even home to nesting Trumpeter Swans! The reservoir here maintains water levels for the Buells Creek System and is a Class 1 provincially significant wetland, which means an abundance of wildlife, as well as an interesting collection of wading birds and waterfowl. There are trails and access to the “Back Pond” to get a good view of the birds who call this area home.
The water route from Beveridges Lockstation Rideau Lake to Merrickville is a paddler’s paradise. It offers fantastic opportunities for waterfowl viewing in a variety of habitat including winding canal and river intermixed with shallow lakes and marshy shorelines. Part of what makes this particularly enticing for birding is the preceding detached lockstation in Smiths Falls, the Swale, which is a Class 1 Wetland, as well as the Tay River, the Tay Marsh (Class 1 Wetland) and Beveridges Locks. Numerous locks following that make this an ideal choice for short day trips. A variety of easy access spots are available for paddlers, and there is even a Federal Bird Sanctuary and Class 1 and 2 Wetlands located upstream from Merrickville. Guaranteed action from feathered friends!
Enjoy unspoiled natural scenery and bird watching on Wolfe Island, a short ferry ride from Kingston. Large numbers of waterfowl and land birds have been known to congregate here – we’re talking more than 10,000 of one species during migration. The birding on the island is great year-round – Wolfe Island and Amherst Island are known internationally as important sites for large groups of wintering owls and raptors. Bayfield Bay and Reeds Bay are two sites that are typically rewarding for even snow geese, bufflehead and large numbers of goldeneye. Big Sandy Bay Conservation Area is also home to nationally vulnerable species.
The Napanee Limestone Plain is a unique section of land surrounding the city. About ¾ of the provinces’ population of breeding Loggerhead Shrikes breed on this plain, which is recognized as an Important Bird Area.
A fantastic birding spot near Belleville is the H.R. Frink Centre. This outdoor education wildlife area includes a wetlands boardwalk (please note that some sections are closed for maintenance), a lookout, parking, and feeders on site. The wooded areas here house a variety of birds including flickers, catbirds, warblers, and even grouse, thrushes, and flycatchers. This is a prime bird-watching territory, with Moorhens, Herons, Rails, Sparrows, and even Northern Harriers to be seen along the boardwalk. Only 10 km from Belleville on Thrasher Road, it makes for a great escape from the city, too, with thousands of students visiting the centre each year. See more from Quinte Conservation here.
The Potter’s Creek farm is continuing its legacy, but housing birds this time around. The 140-hectare paradise is the home base for Quinte Conservation and allows hikers and avid birders to lace up and hit the trails – on both sides of the highway! Just across Highway 2 is a spot for paddlers to access the Bay of Quinte to search for tweets, with an adjacent parking area. The variety of habitat makes this a perfect place for many bird species. North of the highway, you can see Baltimore Orioles; Brown-headed Cowbirds; Eastern Phoebes; Red-eyed Vireos and more while crossing the road to the south side allows visitors to see Common Flickers; Spotted Sandpipers; Belted Kingfishers and more.
Take in the unspoiled natural scenery and give bird watching a try!