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Canada

Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber ©Glenn Bartley Website

Birding Canada

Why Come birding in Canada?

Canada is a modern country, with civilized amenities, offering unhurried, unharried birding and incomparable scenery. There are nearly 640 species on the country list. Canada represents excellent value for money (current low Canadian dollar exchange rate) and there are lots of open places with no crowds (except Point Pelee National Park in May). Canada is the second largest country in the world, with a wealth of diverse habitats (coastlines, mountains, prairies, wetlands, taiga, tundra, extensive deciduous forests) and is a remarkably safe country (low crime rate, no inoculations needed). Moreover, it has wood warblers in breeding plumage (36 species breeding); excellent tourism infrastructure, great mammal viewing, butterfly watching, and wildflower photography.

Why Not?

There are no endemic bird species, so world twitchers should go somewhere else.

When To Come?

For North-bound migration go in mid-April to mid-May; for breeding birds go in late May to early July; for south-bound migration go in mid-July to October, and, for winter birding come in December through to February.

How to get there?

There are direct flights from Europe to Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and elsewhere. Solo birding is often practical, as birding guides (mostly current) cover much of the southern portions of the country. Otherwise go on a birding tour with a Canadian-based tour company; they know Canada best.

Top Sites

Alberta (grasslands and mountains)

Most visitors concentrate on the SW part of the province, because that is where Banff is, the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. Dinosaur Provincial Park -- species of the grasslands and badlands, Banff & Jasper National Parks -- montane species, Beaverhill Lake -- wader migration , Wood Buffalo National Park -- in the NW corner. Boreal species, and nesting site of the Whooping Crane.

British Columbia (mountains, valleys, coastline)

The province with the largest species list in the country; most visits (and birding) occur in the SW corner, due to ease of access. Okanagan Valley -- birds of “southern” montane affinity, Manning Provincial Park -- western montane species, Reifel Refuge, & Iona/Sea Islands - waterfowl, waders, migration, Pacific Rim National Park.

Manitoba (birds of the arctic, boreal forest, prairie wetlands, and grassland)

This province still holds the largest single-day bird total for Canada, at 205 species, in early June. Oak Hammock Marsh, Riding Mountain National Park, Whiteshell Provincial Park, SW. Manitoba -- grassland species, Churchill -- the “accessible” arctic

New Brunswick (wader migration, boreal breeding species, salt marshes)

Grand Manan Island, Fundy National Park, Sackville Waterfowl Park, Kouchibouguac National Park, Isle Miscou, Cape Tormentine National Wildlife Area.

Newfoundland & Labrador (Seabird colonies, Long Range Mountains, accessible arctic/alpine habitats)

East Coast: Avalon Peninsula, Cape St. Mary’s National Wildlife Refuge (gannets, kittiwakes, alcids); Witless Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Terra Nova National Park. West Coast: Codroy Valley, Gros Morne National Park, L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, Labrador: Pinware River mouth.

Northwest Territories (tundra, boreal forest, arctic coast)

Accessible by road to Fort Smith and Yellowknife via Alberta, and to Inuvik via the Dempster Highway from Whitehorse. And accessible by air. Quite remote, and expensive. Yellowknife area. Nahanni National Park (access by guided outfitter recommended). Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk areas. Polar Bear Pass.

Nova Scotia (Boreal Forest birds, salt marsh species)

…autumn wader migration through the Bay of Fundy, best vagrant traps in Canada -- second-smallest province in Canada, but the third-largest species list, with only 30 active birders. Also autumn colours, and world’s highest tides. Cape Breton Highlands National Park -- breeding birds, Cape Sable Island -- migrant/vagrant trap, Brier Island -- migrant trap, and base for seabird and whale-watching trips, Kejimkujik National Park -- breeding birds. Hartlen Point (in Halifax) -- vagrant trap, Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary -- breeding marsh birds, Bay of Fundy -- seabirds, whales, wader migration, Pictou Harbour -- winter waterfowl and gulls.

Nunavut (tundra, arctic coast)

Canada’s newest territory; access by air only. Auyittuq National Park (Baffin Island); Ellesmere Island National Park.

Ontario (the largest province in Canada, so offering a little bit of everything)

Southern Ontario: Point Pelee National Park -- migration, Carolinian breeding species, Prince Edward Point Wildlife Area - migration, Algonquin Provincial Park -- “accessible” boreal breeding species, Presque’isle Provincial Park - migration, Niagara River -- gulls in late autumn. Northern Ontario: Pukaskwa National Park -- boreal breeding species, Rainy River area -- species with “western” affiliations, Moosonee -- species with “arctic” affiliations.

Prince Edward Island (wader migration, idyllic pastoral landscape -- the smallest Canadian province)

Prince Edward Island National Park, East Point.

Quebec (breeding birds, seabird colonies, whale watching)

One of the largest provinces in Canada, French-speaking, and with its vast northern areas difficult to access, except for roads to the Great Whale hydro project, and to Goose Bay, Labrador. Isle Bonaventure -- seabird colony, Gaspé Peninsula -- boreal forest, and mountains, Saguenay Provincial Park and National Marine Park -- whales and seabirds, Cap Tormentine -- migration (200,000+ Snow Geese in October); La Mauricie National Park -- boreal forest.

Saskatchewan (grassland birds, prairie wetlands, boreal forest, and birds of the Rocky Mountain foothills)

An 'undiscovered' gem. Incredible concentrations of birds during spring and autumn migration, and a superb diversity of breeding species. Grasslands National Park -- birds of the prairie, Cypress Hills Provincial Park -- an outlier of the Rocky Mountain foothills, with mountain species, The Great Sand Hills, Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Prince Albert National Park -- Boreal species, eight breeding owls, mammal watching par excellence.

Yukon Territory (mountains, arctic coast)

Of the three northern territories, the easiest to access. The Alaska highway links Alberta with Alaska, passing through the Yukon, and the Dempster highway goes north from Whitehorse to the Arctic coast in the Northwest Territories. The Whitehorse area, Kluane National Park - mountains.

Contributor

Blake Maybank

Writer & Tour Leader

(1955-2015)

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 679

As at June 2018

National Bird - Common Loon Gavia immer

Endemics

There are no true endemics in Canada but there are three birds that breed nowhere else… Ross's Goose Anser rossii, Harris's Sparrow Zonotrichia querula and Whooping Crane Grus americana.

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

ABA Checklist

[Birds of the Continental United States and Canada] | By American Birding Association | 7th Edition | Spiralbound | 162 pages, no illustrations |

ISBN: 9781878788344

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birding in Canada

By Dave Gosney | Gostours | 2007 | DVD Region 2 | Runtime: 65 min |

ISBN: 5023017740535

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Atlantic Canada

By Roger Burrows | Lone Pine Publishing | 2002 | Paperback | 336 pages, colour illustrations, maps |

ISBN: 1551053535

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Canada

By Tyler L Hoar, Ken De Smet, R Wayne Campbell & Gregory Kennedy | Lone Pine Publishing | 2010 | Paperback | 528 pages, 541 colour photos, 663 colour illustrations, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781551055893

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The North American Bird Guide

By David Allen Sibley | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2014 | Paperback | 599 pages, plates with 6600 colour illustrations, 600+ colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781472909275

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Bird Studies Canada

P0 Box 160, Port Rowan, Ontario NOB IMO. + 1 519 586 3531 mbradstreet@bsc-eoc.org http://www.bsc-eoc.org

Organisations

Boreal Songbird Initiative

Website

The Boreal Songbird Initiative (BSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to outreach and education about the importance of the Boreal Forest region to North America's birds. BSI works to mobilize environmental and birding groups and individuals to influence Canadian government and industry policies…

Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Website

We are the Canadian Peregrine Foundation, a Canadian Registered Charity here in Canada, (located in Toronto Ontario currently); and have been involved in peregrine (anatum sub) recovery, restoration, monitoring, and satellite tracking of same for the past two plus years.

Canadian Wildlife Federation

Website

Since 1962, CWF has advocated the protection of Canada`s wild species and spaces. Representing over 300,000 members and supporters, the federation is one of Canada`s largest non-profit, non-governmental conservation organizations…

Important Bird Areas

Website

Canada's Important Bird Areas program is a science-based initiative to identify, conserve and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for Canada's bird populations

Nature Canada

Website

1 Nicholas Street, Suite 606, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7. + 1 613 562 3447; cnf@cnf.ca
Conserving Canada's backyard. The national voice for the protection of nature, its diversity, and the processes that sustain it…

Society of Canadian Ornithologists

Website

The Society is the body of Canada's ornithological community, whose mandate is to administer awards, publications, and interconnection with the other professional ornithological societies in Canada, North America and worldwide…

Reserves

Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

Abbreviations on Provincial Pages

BR = Biosphere Reserve
BiR = Bird Reserve
BS = Bird Sanctuary
CA = Conservation Area
EBA = Endemic Bird Area
ER = Ecological Reserve
IBA = Important Bird Area
IPP = Interprovincial Park
MBS = Migratory Bird Sanctuary
MP = Marine Park
MWR = Migratory Waterfowl Refuge
NA = Natural Area
NC = Nature Center
NF = National Forest
NP = National Park
NPR = National Park Preserve
NPr = Nature Preserve
NR = Nature Reserve
NS = Nature Sanctuary
NWA = National Wildlife Area
NWR = National Wildlife Refuge
PP = Provincial Park
RNP = Regional Nature Park
SNR = Strict Nature Reserve
SeNR = State Nature Reserve
SP = State Park
SeR = Seabird Reserve
SR = State Reserve
SWA = State Wildlife Area
SWMA = State Wildlife Management Area
SWR = State Wildlife Refuge
WA = Wildlife Area
WBR = World Biosphere Reserve
WMA = Wildlife Management Area
WRf = Wildlife Refuge
WRs = Wildlife Reserve
WP = Waterfowl Park
WiRv = Wilderness Reserve
WeRv = Wetland Reserve
WS = Wildlife Sanctuary
WeS = Wetland Sanctuary
WoS = Woodland Sanctuary

Important Bird Areas in Canada

Website

Canada’s Important Bird Areas Program is a science-based initiative to identify, conserve, and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for Canada’s bird populations…

Parks Canada

Website

A useful site to gather background information if you are considering travelling to Canada.

Wetlands

Webpage

Canada currently has 37 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 13,086,767 hectares.

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

South-eastern Manitoba has become a premier location for northern boreal forest owls. The list of owls present during most winters is very impressive - Great Gray, Boreal, Barred, Great Horned, Snowy, Short-eared and Northern Hawk-owl, with Eastern Screech-owl, Long-eared and Northern Saw-whet Owl. Please contact us for more details.

Naturalist Journeys

Tour Operator

Several tours on offer such as: Newfoundland & Labrador Cruise...

Rockjumper Birding Tours

Tour Operator

The Canadian Arctic remains one of the most pristine parts of our planet, and our Northwest Passage birding and wildlife cruise traverses this magical area in search of some very special birds and mammals.

Tom Hince - Bird with Tom

Tour Operator

Birds and nature have been my passion for over fifty years. Through my work with the National Park service, the Discovery Channel, and BirdwithTom.com, I've been privileged to introduce countless people to the magic of birding. I have been a professional birding guide for nearly three decades and take great pride in providing the very best experiences for participants.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2015 [09 September] - Peter Dunn - Western Canada

Report PDF

...Fruiting shrubs in the woods attracted a variety of birds including Northern Flicker, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Western Tanager, and best of all a nice male Varied Thrush.

2017 [03 March] - Sam Woods - Winter Owls and Boreal Birding

PDF Report

...we opted to visit Algonquin Provincial Park, which held some notable new species for the participant John, and was somewhere he had wanted to see all the same, birds or not, for it is one of Canada’s most revered parks. This yielded our most productive day’s birding, with Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, White-winged and Red Crossbills, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, and even a confiding American “Pine” Marten seen during an immensely enjoyable day there. In the end, we racked up 4 species of owls, and added a suite of cool boreal winter birds with it, like Bohemian Waxwing and Gray Jay, to complete a really gratifying short venture into the beautiful boreal north....

2017 [09 September] - Tim Melling - The West

PDF Report

Before breakfast we had a short visit to Boundary Bay. The tide was high and we saw numerous ducks and waders; Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer, American Wigeon, Pintail plus others. We watched the sun slowly penetrate the cloud and we could see sun spots through the telescope. Coopers Hawk and Northern Harrier were seen along with White-crowned, Song, Savannah and Lincoln’s Sparrows. Two hummingbirds were also seen, probably Anna’s but only seen in flight...

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Charming Inns

Accommodation

…for a scenic location …and, frequently, for the best food in town, you can't do better than an Inn.Wherever you travel in America or Canada, Charming Country Inns directory is your best guide to hundreds and hundreds of little known, out of the way inns, B&Bs, lodges…

Blogs

Chris Earley - Canadian Birder

BLOG

I am a 13 year-old birder and bird photographer currently living in Calgary, Alberta. Previously, I lived in Guelph, Ontario. I have birded in Southeastern Arizona, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and pelagic birding in Washington state. My favorite birding location is Point Pelee National Park

The Canadian Warbler

Blog

John Gordon listening to birds… Birding stories and photographs from Canada…

Trevor & Ashley - The Bird Nerds

BLOG

We are the Bird Nerds, and we love taking photos of birds. We’re amateur bird photographers from Ontario, Canada, and we’re in this for the long haul.

Other Links

Bird Studies Canada

Website

Bird Studies Canada is recognized nation-wide as a leading and respected not-for-profit conservation organization dedicated to advancing the understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, in Canada and elsewhere, through studies that engage the skills, enthusiasm and support of its members, volunteers, staff and the interested public.

Environment Canada

Website

Everything you could possibly want to know about the environment from a Canadian perspective. The site is in French & English.

Nature Sounds.ca

Website

Nature Sounds.ca is dedicated to sharing the sounds and experiences of the woods and forests of northeastern North America. When recording, meticulous care is taken to exclude man-made sounds, or the sounds of domestic animals. A pristine audio experience of wilderness is the result…

Pelagics - New England Seabirds

Website

To promote pelagic birding and the conservation of seabirds in New England. Natural history of the seabirds and something about the whales and dolphins. Where to see pelagic birds from land and how to take a pelagic trip. Visiting seabird colonies in Maine, Nova Scotia, eastern Canada and Newfoundland. Hints for taking your first pelagic trip. Reports of birds seen. Not for profit, no sales, no advertising.

Species at Risk in Canada

Website

The highest rates of species extinction are occurring not in Canada, but in tropical rain forests that are being rapidly cleared. However, the rate of species extinction is high in Canada, as well…

The Birds of North America Online

Website

Access to the undoubtedly excellent site is, unfortunately, by annual subscription, currently $40 for individuals…

Photographers & Artists

Garry Coldwells’ Bird Photography

Gallery

Excellent shots from the Canadian photographer…