Where beauty and wonder soar.
Thousands of visitors travel to Windsor-Essex annually to see the variety of birds that flock to our area. We are one of North America’s premier bird-watching hotspots. Home to Point Pelee National Park*, Holiday Beach, Hillman Marsh Conservation Areas, and Ojibway Park, and neighbouring Chatham-Kent’s, Rondeau Provincial Park, Wheatley Provincial Park, St. Clair National Wildlife Area and Blenheim Lagoons. The unique geographical properties of the Windsor-Essex area act as a funnel for the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds on the move each spring — and equally as remarkable — the fall. Our conservation areas provide important resting areas as these birds make their long journeys, and they offer year-round habitat for non-migratory birds. Conservation areas are equipped with convenient parking areas and pleasant trails and good viewing areas, and some have viewing towers to experience the pleasure of birding.Early songbird migration starts in early March with the return of waterfowl, and shorebirds follow in April. Within weeks, full migration occurs with the arrival of numerous colourful species with most migrations festivals and events taking place in May.
WINTER OWL PROWL at Cedar, Mill, and Wigle Creek, February 2017.
NATIONAL WILDLIFE WEEK at Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary,
April 8 – 9, 2017
FESTIVAL OF BIRDS at Point Pelee National Park, May 1 – 22, 2017
FESTIVAL OF HAWKS at Holiday Beach Conservation Area,
September 9 – 10 & 16 – 17, 2017.
WINDSOR-ESSEX BIRDING HOTSPOTS
Point Pelee National Park*
Known as a migration mecca, Point Pelee is a world-class birding site with more than 390 species recorded in the park’s birding area, and the park is coined “The Warbler Capital of Canada”. Although significant breeding birds call the park home (such as the Wood Thrush, Yellow Warbler, and the Yellow-Rumped Warbler), Point Pelee’s greatest importance is to migratory species (such as like Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and the Kentucky Warbler), moving through in spring and fall and decorating trees like ornaments, allowing birders to see up to one hundred species in a day.
*FREE admission with the Parks Canada Discovery Pass, available in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday at various locations (including Tourism Information Centres throughout Windsor and Essex County)
Holiday Beach Conservation Area
Internationally recognized as a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA), Holiday Beach is significant for its raptor migration and its breeding habitat for Prothonotary Warblers. Holiday Beach hosts a world-renowned Festival of Hawks each September to witness the migration celebration as thousands of hawks, vultures, eagles, falcons, and other birds of prey concentrate in the area before heading across the Detroit River towards warmer, more southerly destinations for the winter.
Hillman Marsh Conservation Area
The shorebird habitat at the Hillman Marsh is unique to North America, and features some of the best shorebird habitat in its 87-acre managed wetland in Ontario. Hillman Marsh also offers a shorebird viewing shelter and identification signs.
Over one hundred species of birds use this conservation area as a migration stopover, which draws sandpipers, ducks, warblers,and frequently spotted annual rarities such as the Yellow-headed Blackbird, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Eurasian Wigeon, Glossy Ibis, and Eastern Kingbird.
Ontario Field Ornithologists are available during the Shorebird Celebration in May giving you prime shorebird viewing opportunities.
Ojibway Park and Prairie Complex
A visit to the Ojibway Prairie Complex in Windsor can be a rewarding experience for birders with over 252 bird species recorded within 5 km (3 mi.) of the Ojibway Nature Centre. In addition, the tallgrass prairie and oak savanna communities provide an opportunity to view wildflowers,butterflies and other wildlife seldom encountered elsewhere in Ontario.
CHATHAM-KENT BIRDING HOTSPOTS
Rondeau Provincial Park
Rondeau is a peninsula that extends into Lake Erie, and the park is lucky to be in an area of overlap for the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways. This makes Rondeau a great stop-over for migrating birds. Rondeau sees a variety of species as they make their journey north in the spring (check out the Festival of Flight), and back south in the fall, which helps Rondeau uphold their status of being a great birding hotspot all year-round.
Over 360 species of birds have been seen in the Rondeau area, and at least 130 of those are classified as breeding in the park.
Look out for songbirds such as the Prothonotary Warbler, Townsend’s Solitaire, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Blue Grosbeak.
Wheatley Provincial Park
Wheatley Provincial Park is located on a major migratory bird route and therefore provides excellent bird-watching opportunities. During spring and fall migrations you can view a variety of warblers, hawks, thrushes, and flycatchers, or watch herons and egrets wade in the shallows of creeks that wind their way through the park.Take the day to participate in the Norm Chesterfield Bird Hike, held annually around Mother’s Day to commemorate this local birding legend.Look out for the Little Blue Heron and the Mississippi Kite, warblers, hawks, thrushes, flycatchers, waterfowl, and wrens.
St. Clair National Wildlife Area
Lake St. Clair and adjacent marshes are the most important staging area for waterfowl including over 20,000 geese,
ducks, and swans that blanket this wetland. This area is part of the Eastern Lake St. Clair Important Bird Area (IBA).
The best views are from atop the observation tower or along the scenic trail.
Blenheim Sewage Lagoons
This lagoon offer close-ups of shorebirds like the Dunlin, Greater Scaup, Rudy Duck, Wood Duck, Canvasback, Great Egret, and Lesser Yellowlegs.