Eastern Ontario is famous for wildlife viewing – especially birdwatching – in autumn. Not only do enthusiasts enjoy inspiring fall colours, there are plenty of places to see birds heading south. Shorebirds, songbirds and raptors are on the wing, and many species have already been spotted migrating. Even on casual tours, visitors can see dozens of species all within a single day.
Along the trails of Brittania Conservation Area surrounding Mud Lake, visitors can see mergansers, teals, great blue herons, Blackburnian and Cape May warblers.
Andrew Haydon Park, also known as Ottawa Beach, sees quite a few water birds and shorebirds that take advantage of its mudflats in the fall migration. Rarities include American golden plovers and king eiders.
Kingsview and Strathcona parks along the Rideau River offer the chance to see Cooper’s hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, yellow warblers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons and hooded mergansers.
Ottawa River valley
North of Deep River, in the hamlet of Meilleurs Bay, is the Reilly Bird Nature Reserve. Hermit thrushes, Nashville warblers, great blue herons, belted kingfishers and ruffed grouse are just a few of the birds on offer.
Shorebirds and waterfowl, such as semipalmated sandpipers and greater yellowlegs, surf scoters, northern pintail and wood ducks frequent Westmeath Provincial Park using the beaches and wetlands as a resting area during migration.
Arnprior’s Gillies Grove offers a beautiful old growth forest where pine and hardwood stands provide habitat for barred and screech owls, red-shouldered hawks and merlins. Look for pileated woodpeckers as well as passerines flying through this beautiful haven.
The Mer Bleue wetlands are known for a broad diversity of birds. From the boardwalk, visitors have chance to see clay-coloured sparrows, palm warblers, green herons and sandhill cranes.
Voyageur Provincial Park, located in the far eastern corner of the province, offers an incredible display of bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, spotted sandpipers, dunlin, song sparrows, tree swallows, snow geese and Canada geese.
St. Lawrence River
If you have the chance, tour the Thousand Islands National Park, either along the shore or by boat to see great egrets, common loons, bufflehead ducks, bald eagles and osprey.
An honourable mention goes to the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, home to wood ducks and a large Canada goose population, as well as being a staging ground for sandpipers, black-bellied plovers, pine warblers, and more than a hundred other migratory species.
An accomplished naturalist with a passion for protecting the great outdoors, Noah Cole is Ontario Nature’s communications technician.