The very vastness of the country and geographic spread translates to diverse habitats and climes found only in Canada. This also means that birding enthusiasts visiting here find a large number of local and migratory species, irrespective of region. While some locations lend to a better birding experience given the natural scenery, others provide a bird watching adventure like no other, simply given the unique species that can be seen in Canada all year round.
FatBirder.com agrees, saying this on why you should come birding in Canada:
“Canada [has] nearly 640 species on the country list. Canada represents excellent value for money (current low Canadian dollar exchange rate) and there are lots of open places with no crowds (except Point Pelee National Park in May). Canada is the second largest country in the world, with a wealth of diverse habitats (coastlines, mountains, prairies, wetlands, taiga, tundra, extensive deciduous forests) and is a remarkably safe country.
“Moreover, it has wood warblers in breeding plumage (36 species breeding); excellent tourism infrastructure, great mammal viewing, butterfly watching, and wildflower photography.”
No matter the weather, if you enjoy birding, either as an amateur or professionally, you will enjoy this list of best birding locations in Canada. Parks, mountains, tours, coastal areas, conservatories — the choices are endless. I hope you find many options here to satisfy your birding pursuits at some of the best viewing hotspots in Canada.
Birding at Canadian National Parks Point Pelee National Park in Ontario is one of the most well known and frequented birding locations, offering the chance to view around 380 species, especially during spring and fall weather. No wonder then that this was once named to the Top 15 Birding spots in North America list by Birder’s World Magazine. Coined the warbler capital of Canada, it is a protected ecological region.
The Point Pelee National Park page at Parks Canada, has these interesting “Did You Know” facts about the park:
- “Point Pelee’s been coined ‘The Warbler Capital of Canada’ — 42 out of 52 warblers have been recorded here and 36 are seen here each spring.
- 80 percent of the birds species recorded for the province of Ontario have been recorded at least once in the Point Pelee Birding Area.
- The park is one of the Top 15 Birding spots in North America, awarded by Birder’s World Magazine, October 2002.
- World renowned for its bird and butterfly migrations, the park is a UNESCO designated Wetland of International Significance and protects the Carolinian life zone of the St. Laurence Lowlands, the southern most ecological region of Canada.
- Some say…’The Park was built by the birds.'”
The Prince Edward Island National Park is considered a great place to see Great Blue Heron and White-Throated Sparrow. The Casumpec Bay eco system here witnesses large numbers of migrating Canada geese and is a nesting habitat for great blue heron and osprey. There is also Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia, where you can spot 178 bird species including warbler and woodpecker, and Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan where you have a pretty good chance of seeing Golden Eagles and Rock Wrens.
British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park has Blue Grouse and Golden Crowned Kinglet for bird watchers to look out for. A variety of habitats — alpines, slopes and forests — offer birders an opportunity to catch a glimpse of everything from finches and sparrows to thrushes and robins.
Kluane National Park and Reserve in the Yukon Territory has more than 180 species spread across its rivers, lakes and hiking trails. There is an annual Celebration of the Swans, and a crane-viewing festival. There is also Weekend on the Wing birding festival, which is Tombstone Territorial Park’s annual birding festival, where you can catch the return of migrating birds. Birding festivals are held through the year, giving bird-watching enthusiasts a chance to come together and share in the local birding community. The Huron Fringe Birding Festival along the Lake Huron coastline offers birders, naturalists and photographers unique opportunities to discover nature in the early spring.
Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba has many easy to reach birding sites along park trails. Species include hawks, eagles, geese, ducks and black-billed cuckoo. The spectacular habitat has its pros — on a good day, as many as 200 species have been sighted.
Birding Tours & Adventures In CanadaWith birding being a sought after activity in Canada, many companies offer bird watching tours locally that you will enjoy. Spring birding in the Okanagan Valley, considered a bird-watching paradise by many, is commonly visited for specialty birds such as Canyon Wren and Boreal Chickadee. There are early migrants as well, such as the Mountain Bluebird and Tree swallows. Churchill Nature Tours in the Manitoba region features spring and fall opportunities for birders to see 250 species of birds that nest or pass through. Everything from falcons and hawks to terns and gulls and other Arctic specialties can be seen here. Bird Cove, Granary Ponds and Akudlik Marsh are frequented spots. Guided birding tours are also offered on Vancouver Island where the eastern and western parts each have their own interesting species to discover.
Birding At Conservation AreasThe Niagara might not be top of mind as necessarily a birding location but three conservation areas along the Niagara Falls offer birders a chance to enjoy rare species. Raptor viewing is common here as is egrets and sandpipers. The Beamer Memorial conservation area, Mud Lake conservation area and Wainfield Wetlands conservation area are located here. The Niagara River is one of many Important Bird Areas recognized in Canada. More than 19 types of gulls are found here.
The George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Vancouver British Columbia is an area of coastal marsh where more than 240 species have been spotted, and where up to 80,000 snow geese spend the winter. The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland offer the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in North America and the second largest colony of Leach’s Petrels in the world. You can also get lucky with your pick of birding choices — gannets, kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and cormorants are found here.
Birding EtiquetteBefore heading out on your birding escapade though, remember to grab your binoculars and camera, and I strongly suggest checking the local weather for updates. While some areas are easily accessible, others may present a hike or more tedious approach to your birding site. I have found apps like Ebird.org and magazines such as Bird Watching Daily to be very useful — they offer the latest reports on sightings so check up on those resources before your birding experience.
I also strongly suggest reviewing the Important Bird Areas listed as well as the rare species for each area. The Canadian government has many laws in place to protect the different bird species as well as the habitats they nest and visit so be mindful of the bird watching etiquette for each location. There is a good chance you will get to see birds of special concern, threatened or even endangered species during your birding adventures. Share your checklist with us or if you have other locations you think are the best for birding in Canada, simply write in to let us know!