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The Best Bird-Watching Spot in Every Province

Canada's most avid bird-watchers reveal 10 locations where our feathered friends can be found in abundance.

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A woman with binoculars going birdwatching Photo: Shutterstock

Canada’s Top 10 Bird-Watching Destinations

You can’t always predict when you’ll see a bird. Sometimes your best bird-watching experiences are when you’re on an impromptu hike, minding your own business, with nary a feathered friend on your mind. Other times, it’s the place no one else knows about—somewhere you can hide out with your binoculars, a camera and snacks, and not encounter another soul.

While spotting birds is never a guarantee, we’ve used bird sighting records compiled by bird-watchers to identify unique, beautiful and diverse spots across the country. So, pull on your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and visit the best bird-watching locations in every province, recommended by Canada’s most knowledgeable birders.

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The Best Bird-Watching in Prince Edward Island

East Point

There’s something special about seabirds and you’re almost guaranteed a glimpse if you visit East Point, on the easternmost tip of Prince Edward Island. While you’re likely to spot Razorbills, Long-Tailed Ducks, Black Scoters and Common Eiders, 188 different species have been observed at East Point, so you might just be in for a more rare sighting. The spot is also home to a large Great Cormorant colony, so if you want to watch these birds thrive (after previously being hunted almost to extinction) this is the place to do it.

In the unlikely event that you don’t spot any birds at East Point, you can always marvel at the site’s historic lighthouse. The East Point Lighthouse, constructed in 1867, sits above red sandstone cliffs overlooking the sea, which might just be as majestic as a rare American White Pelican spotting. (Check out more beautiful lighthouses across Canada.)

Runner up: Prince Edward Island National Park

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The Best Bird-Watching in Manitoba

Oak Hammock Marsh

Nature-lovers will find their haven at this 36 square kilometre wildlife management area featuring a restored prairie marsh, aspen-oak bluff, waterfowl lure crops, artesian springs and some of Manitoba’s last remaining patches of tall-grass prairie. With more than 30 kilometres of trails to explore, and about 300 species of birds throughout, bird-watchers will be in awe for hours—or days. The most common birds you’ll encounter here are Snow Geese, Mallards, Northern Pintails and Lapland Longspurs.

When your eyes tire of searching the skies, you can explore the grounds and water. There are 25 species of mammals, numerous amphibians, reptiles, and fish, and countless invertebrates that call Oak Hammock Marsh home.

Runner up: Delta Marsh

Discover more hidden gems across Canada.

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The Best Bird-Watching in Saskatchewan

Grasslands National Park

Want a birding experience like no other? At Grasslands National Park, combine bird-watching with bison-watching. Yep—you read that correctly. This prairie habitat puts many unique and stunning features of nature on display. As for your avian adventure, you’ll spot plenty of imperilled grassland birds. Thick-billed Longspurs, Long-billed Curlews, Burrowing Owls, Rock Wrens and Ferruginous Hawks have all been spotted here.

Even without the birds, this national park is a sight to behold. Time-travel to the Mesozoic Era as you explore dinosaur bones, or see vestiges of tipi rings from Precolonial Turtle Island. You can also choose to experience a traditional wagon ride, have a cozy campfire or use all your bird-watching equipment to explore the twinkling night sky.

Runner up: Cypress Hills (which is a short distance from Grasslands National Park)

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The Best Bird-Watching in British Columbia

Reifel Bird Sanctuary

The sanctuary is a 300-hectare oasis of wetlands, marshes and low dykes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary, just an hour away from Vancouver. The spot, which is ideally located for birds in search of feeding and resting spots during their migration along the Pacific Coast, is home to a huge number of diverse migratory birds in both fall and spring.

If you’re a fan of waterfowl, make your way here during the fall to see large flocks at their peak pond hangout time. In the spring, you’re more likely to find them in nests. For a glimpse of adorable baby ducks, mallards and Canada Geese, summer is your best bet (though it’s best to keep away from the babies and protective mamas, as well as their nesting sites).

Besides waterfowl, you’re also likely to spot Red-Winged Blackbirds, Black-Capped Chickadees, Marsh Wren and more. What’s more, if you’re paying close attention to the feeders or flowers, you’ll also spot Rufous Hummingbirds feeding as they rapidly beat their wings, which is guaranteed to leave you in awe.

Runner up: Colony Farm Regional Park

Check out our guide to the birds of the Okanagan.

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The Best Bird-Watching in Nova Scotia

Seal Island

Surrounded by misty ocean views, tiny Seal Island is the perfect habitat for migrant and stray birds—many of which are rarely spotted elsewhere. Plus, the island is only three kilometres long, making it perfect for birders who want to cover the whole island in just one day. Some of the most notable birds spotted here are White-winged Doves, Pacific Loons, Fork-tailed Flycatchers and Cave Swallows—though you’re all but guaranteed to see many others as well.

Tip: Grab your coffee and get an early start. At dawn, near Race Point, you might just catch a glimpse of larger groups of birds before they disperse or take flight for the day.

While there is no regular boat service to Seal Island, access can be privately arranged through local tour operators. Lobster fishermen have also been known to occasionally ferry passengers over to the island from Clark’s Harbour.

Runner up: Bon Portage Island

Don’t miss this gorgeous gallery of Canadian bird photography.

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The Best Bird-Watching in Ontario

Presqu’ile Provincial Park

There have been more than 337 wild bird species recorded at this provincial park that juts into Lake Ontario. Presqu’ile is on a major flyway for many migrating birds (and on a major highway for those of us who can conveniently use the 401 to get there). The Great Lakes are typically a barrier for migrating birds, so they often congregate on the shores (like at Presqu’ile) while waiting for the right conditions to cross (it’s a long journey over open water, after all!).

Enjoy the beaches, take a hike to the lighthouse and be sure to bring your binoculars for all the spectacular bird-watching opportunities. If you’re in a festive mood, visit on the Victoria Day weekend in May, when Presqu’ile holds its annual Warblers and Whimbrels festival. Most common bird species spotted here: Ring-billed Gulls, Tree Swallows, Canada Geese, European Starlings and Red-breasted Mergansers.

Runner up: Long Point

Here are more hidden gems in Ontario that are well worth exploring.

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The Best Bird-Watching in Quebec

Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area

Greater snow geese love this wildlife zone, thanks to the American bulrush marshes that serve as their primary habitat during migration periods. Located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, 50 kilometres east of Quebec City, Cap Tourmente offers contrasting landscapes comprising the river, large coastal marshes, plains and mountains.

A total of 311 bird species have been spotted at this beautiful wildlife area over the years, the most common being Tundra Swan, Purple Sandpiper, Eastern Towhee, Black Scoter and Bonaparte’s Gull. Even if you don’t spot birds on your visit, you’re likely to encounter hundreds of different animal species, like muskrats, white-tailed deer, American porcupines and red foxes, as you explore 20 kilometres of hiking trails.

Runner up: Tadoussac Bird Observatory

Here’s where you’ll find the best wildlife experience in every province.

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The Best Bird-Watching in Alberta

Cold Lake Provincial Park

If you could greet each day in the most magical way possible, Cold Lake Provincial Park during spring and early summer would be the place to do it. That’s when you’ll hear the spectacular dawn chorus of the many different songbirds that call this park home—like Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Chipping Sparrows. The mainly pine and spruce forests provide the perfect environment for nesting.

The park is also home to more than 200 bird species, including a significant variety of waterfowl. When you’re not being woken to the beautiful sounds of birds defending their territory and attracting mates, you can enjoy a hike through the nine kilometres of forest and meadow trails.

Looking for Franklin’s Gulls, Western Grebes, Ring-billed Gulls, Red-breasted Mergansers or Greater White-fronted Geese? You’re likely to find these birds at Cold Lake.

Runner up: Beaverhill Bird Observatory

Read about the incredible efforts to save Canada’s mountain bluebird.

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The Best Bird-Watching in New Brunswick

Castalia Marsh

Ready for a birding adventure? Hop on a ferry at Blacks Harbour and head on over to Castalia Marsh on Grand Manan Island, known for its stunning scenery and birding hotspots. Wide-open spaces provide unobstructed views for bird-watching—which you’ll be doing a lot of, considering 254 species have been spotted here. While the most common include Herring Gulls, Brants, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Common Eiders, you might be lucky enough to spot some Atlantic Puffins, Arctic Terns or Northern Fulmars.

Runner up: Irving Nature Park

Don’t miss these great Canadian bird stories.

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Newfoundland and Labrador: Cape Race

Foggy, flat and barren Cape Race juts into the Atlantic Ocean. With its dramatic cliffs and famous lighthouse (which received the distress call from the Titanic!) it’s a sight to behold all on its own.

Birders will love the unique birding opportunities it offers: 209 species have been seen here including Great Shearwater, Common Eider, Thick-billed Murre, Dovekie and Common Murre. A rare bird called a Corn Crake has also been spotted here as recently as late 2020.

In general, July is the best time to go birding in this area, as you will get the chance to see large numbers of nesting seabirds like Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake and Atlantic Puffin.

Runner up: Cape Spear