Second Marsh

Located in southeast Oshawa, this Lake Ontario nature sanctuary is an excellent place to see migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. More than 300 species frequent the wetland park, either for nesting or as a migratory stopover. Sandpipers, plovers, and yellowlegs can be seen along the mud flats and shallows. In September, scour the beach for great blue herons. A network of trails and boardwalks, not to mention a series of observation decks and towers, make birding easy.

Prince Edward County

Although it’s best known for its beaches and Taste Trail, the county is the top birding location on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The best place to watch spring and fall migration is the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area (County Rd. 13, 33 km southeast of Picton), which features a bird observatory and banding site. Expect to see wood ducks, woodcocks, warblers, and woodpeckers. The next Birding Prince Edward County Festival will take place from May 13 to 22.

Beamer Memorial Conservation Area

High atop the Niagara Peninsula, near Grimsby, Beamer is known for its great hawk watching. Along the scenic trail, three viewing platforms are great vantage points from which to watch turkey vultures riding the thermals. Bald eagles are often sighted here, but the real show is in spring and fall when migrating hawks – rough-legged, Red-shouldered and broad-winged–pass through at a rate of up to 1,000 per day. An annual Hawk Watch is held on Good Friday. Another good place to spot eagles is at Petroglyphs Provincial Park, near Peterborough, in January.

Point Pelee

The prospect of scoring a century-100 different species sightings in one day-draws thousand of birders to the most southerly point in Canada. Spring migration at Point Pelee National Park begins as early as February with the first horned larks. But the month of May brings the stars of the birding stage: the colorful warblers (Connecticut, Canada, Chestnut-sided and more) that touch down here after crossing Lake Erie. The park goes all out to welcome birders: early openings, coffee-and-pastry breakfasts and a shuttle (with one departing every 20 minutes) to the tip of the park. Walking trails take visitors through scenic habitats: beaches, wetlands and Carolinian forests. The Vintage Goose Inn and Spa cater to birders. For a similar experience with fewer crowds, try Rondeau Provincial Park (519-674-1768), roughly 65 kilometers east of Pelee, which features wheelchair-friendly trails, good campgrounds, and great beaches.

Niagara River

In November, birders flock to the honeymoon capital to see some 19 species of migrating gulls. Bonaparte’s gulls fly south from boreal forests, Franklin’s gulls travel east from the prairies, and black-legged kittiwakes fly west from the Atlantic. Several species winter here, fishing in the river alongside the hydroelectric dams. During the annual Niagara River International Gull Festival (the first weekend in December), guided field trips are offered by Niagara Nature Tours.

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