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Reilly Bird Nature Reserve

A steep esker left over from the glaciation of the Ottawa Valley rises up from the creek bed and overlooks the river.

Ottawa Valley, Reilly Bird Nature Reserve © Noah Cole


Named after the generous man who donated the nature reserve, Reilly Bird, this 28-hectare (69-acre) property is a stunning parcel of mixed hardwood forest situated along the upper Ottawa River, just northwest of the town of Deep River.

Ontario Nature is grateful to Mr. Bird for his generous donation to protect a piece of the Algonquin to Adirondack corridor.

Reilly Bird Nature Reserve © Laura Robson


Reilly Bird emigrated from the United Kingdom to Canada in 1967 to work at the Atomic Energy of Canada plant in Chalk River. He quickly fell in love with eastern Ontario’s vast wilderness, setting out to canoe, backpack and explore it at every opportunity. The geological anomaly of ‘Lot 36’, as the nature reserve property is fondly known to Mr. Bird, was purchased as a way to maintain a quiet bit of wilderness for these solo adventures. But as time passed he felt that he wanted to give something back to Canada.

In 1992, Mr. Bird asked Ontario Nature to protect Lot 36 in perpetuity after his passing. Later, feeling anxious to secure the property, Mr. Bird expedited the transfer. Ontario Nature has benefited greatly from his vast knowledge about the region’s natural heritage.

Reilly Bird Nature Reserve © Laura Robson

Plants and Animals

The nature reserve protects nearly half of the Meilleurs Bay shoreline, an Ottawa River inlet, which provides excellent habitat for basking turtles and spawning fish. Huey Creek, a cold water stream that supports brook trout, runs through the property.

Moss covered cedars and yellow birch hug the sandy shoreline of Huey Creek and are frequented by belted kingfishers and ruffed grouse. Great blue herons can be spotted fishing in Meilleurs Bay. Two species of orchids, the dwarf rattlesnake-plantain and broad-lipped twayblade, grow in the shade of the cedar groves.

Twinflowers © Lily Vuong


A steep esker left over from the glaciation of the Ottawa Valley rises up from the creek bed and overlooks the river. Eskers are raised, meandering deposits of sand and gravel that are remnants of rivers that flowed through or under glaciers during the last glaciation. A mature stand of large-toothed aspen, red maple, white pine, balsam fir, paper birch and striped maple rests atop this sandy ridge providing perfect habitat for birds like the hermit thrush, brown creeper and Nashville warbler.

We created a trail system through the nature reserve so visitors can explore this beautiful piece of land. This trail creation was generously funded by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

Reilly Bird Nature Reserve © Noah Cole

“The Reilly Bird Nature Reserve is a special place that welcomes the people fortunate enough to visit its diverse environment. Whether you are the three year old who climbed the hill trail on snowshoes for the first time last winter, or the young mother out for a spring walk with her new baby, the property lets you enjoy its quiet trails at your leisure. My personal favourite part of Reilly Bird is the small meandering stream that holds the memories of brook trout I first saw there in 1962.

– John Muff

Reilly Bird Nature Reserve © Noah Cole


From the town of Deep River, follow Highway 17 northwest towards Rolphton. Approximately 14 kilometres from Deep River, Meilleurs Bay will appear on the left or south side of the road. The nature reserve stretches to the south of the highway and includes a portion of Meilleurs Bay. Just west of the bay is a driveway with parking space for several vehicles.

View Reilly Bird Nature Reserve in a larger map.

We do not charge a fee for entrance and there are no operating hours on any of our nature reserves. Properties are monitored by volunteer stewards. We rely on visitors to be safe, minimize their impact on nature and be respectful of others. For more information about visiting the nature reserve properties, please read our Permitted Activities Policy.

We welcome donations to support this nature reserve and our system of 26 nature reserves.

Huey Creek © Lily Vuong

Fungi © Laura Robson
Reilly Bird Nature Reserve

The Reilly Bird Nature Reserve is generously supported by: