David Bird's Top Destinations for Birding in Canada

David Bird's Top Destinations for Birding in Canada

David M. Bird, our knowledgeable consultant editor for the best-selling Birds of Canada and Pocket Birds of Canada, shares his top five birdwatching sites across Canada.

Cape St. Mary’s Seabird Sanctuary

  • lying approximately 2 hours southwest of St. John’s, Newfoundland, it is one of the most easily accessible seabird colonies on Canada’s western Atlantic seaboard
  • for spectacular views of thousands of nesting seabirds on Bird Island, visit from mid-June to late-July; mid-July is also good for the incoming shorebirds
  • seabird colonies include Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Common and Thick-billed Murre; Whimbrel and Lesser Golden Plover are among several shorebird species to be seen

Top tip: Visit the nearby bogs and fens that are home to Willow Ptarmigan, and watch for whales below the seaside cliffs.



  • located in Quebec on the south shore of Lake Saint-Pierre in the county of Nicolet-Yamaska, about a 90-minute drive east of Montreal
  • late April to early May when the fields are flooded is the best time to spend anywhere from two hours to a whole day
  • some of the most interesting species include Snow Goose, Ruddy Duck, Redhead, Wood Duck, Short-eared Owl, Black Tern and Wilson’s Phalarope

Top tip: Check out Pierre Bannon’s helpful book Birdfinding in the Montreal Area to learn more about Baie-du-Febvre.


Rondeau Provincial Park

  • lies southeast of Windsor on the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario, and features a sandspit that extends almost 8 km out into the lake
  • as a welcome alternative to overcrowded Point Pelee, the park contains the largest stand of southern hardwood forest left in Ontario with over 325 bird species recorded
  • in May, look for many warbler species such as the Prothonotary, Worm-eating, and Cerulean Warbler, as well as Black-billed Cuckoo and Red-headed Woodpecker; in September, see thousands of migrating Broad-winged Hawks

Top tip: Check out the Interpretation Centre’s programs, and listen for American Woodcock, Whip-poor-will and the rare Chuck-will’s-widow in the centre’s vicinity.


Oak Hammock Marsh

  • located in Manitoba, a half hour north Winnipeg
  • the dikes of this artificially constructed marsh and lake provide ideal upland habitat for over 105 nesting species as well as access to three separate areas by foot
  • good place to see Hudsonian Godwits and Northern Phalaropes; in late September to early October, look for thousands of shorebirds and ducks as well as Sandhill Cranes

Top tip: Click here for a detailed PDF checklist of the Oak Hammock bird species.


George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (Reifel Refuge)

  • located in the heart of the Fraser River estuary in British Columbia, about one hours’ drive south from the City of Vancouver
  • this important marsh habitat on the Canadian west coast hosts waterfowl from no less than three different continents – North America, South America, and Asia
  • among the millions of shorebirds and waterfowl seen are Trumpeter Swans, Cinnamon Teals, and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers; Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles, and Barn Owls can also be observed

Top tip: Acquire an excellent booklet called “Explore the Fraser Estuary!” by Peggy Ward to learn more about the Reifel Refuge.    


About the Editor

David M. Bird is Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Biology and former Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre at McGill University. As a past president of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, a director with Bird Studies Canada, and a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, he has received several awards for his conservation and education efforts. Dr. Bird is a regular columnist for both Bird Watcher’s Digest and Canadian Wildlife and is the author of several books and over 200 scientific publications. He is the consultant editor for DK’s Birds of Canada, Birds of Eastern Canada, Birds of Western Canada, and Pocket Birds of Canada. Visit his website at askprofessorbird.com.

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