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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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)

  • Nunavut (tundra, arctic coast)

  • 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 --
  • 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, Gasp
  • 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.
  • Blake Maybank


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 679

    As at June 2018

    National Bird - Common Loon Gavia immer

  • 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.

  • 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
  • Birds of Atlantic Canada

    | By Roger Burrows | Lone Pine Publishing | 2002 | Paperback | 336 pages, colour illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9781551053530 Buy this book from
  • 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
  • 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
Birding Aps
  • *Provincial Apps

    For pertinent provincial birding apps see the relevant Canadian Province page

  • Audubon Bird Guide

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Audubon Bird Audubon Society | 105 MB | Requires iOS 9.0 or later. | Requires Android 4.1 and up |

    Identify over 800 bird species. The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you've seen, and get outside to find new birds near you.
  • BirdNET

    | Bird sound identification | Stefan Kahl | Requires Android 5.0 and up |

    How can computers learn to recognize birds from sounds? The BirdNET research project uses artificial intelligence neural networks to train computers to identify more than 500 of the most common species of North America and Germany. Help us test this prototype app by recording a file using the internal microphone of your Android device and seeing if BirdNET correctly identifies the probable bird species present in your recording.
  • Merlin Bird ID app

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Instant Bird Identification | Cornell University | 72.4 MB | Requires iOS 9.0 |

    What's that bird? Merlin Bird ID helps you solve the mystery in 5 questions, or with a photo of a bird. First, Merlin asks you a few simple questions. Then, almost like magic, it reveals the list of birds that best match your description. Pick your bird, then delve into more photos, sounds, and ID tips about your bird!
  • Sibley Birds

    Apple iOS | Android
    | (Birds of North America) | | 2nd Edition |

    The new Sibley Birds app has arrived with comprehensive, up to date information of over 930 North American species. All the detailed artwork from David Sibley’s Guide to Birds Second Edition is included as well as thorough descriptions and distribution maps.
  • Song Sleuth

    Apple iOS |
    | Auto Bird Song ID 4+ | w/ David Sibley Bird Reference | 401.9 MB | Requires iOS 10.0 or later |

    Song Sleuth turns your iPhone or iPad into an automatic bird song identifier covering the 200 most common vocalizing land birds in the U.S.A. Developed by Wildlife Acoustics, in collaboration with world-renowned bird expert and illustrator David Sibley, the app records bird songs and suggests matching species. The identification algorithms are the result of over a decade of research and experience designing professional bioacoustics recorders and software.
Useful Information
  • Bird Studies Canada

    P0 Box 160, Port Rowan, Ontario NOB IMO. + 1 519 586 3531
  • Boreal Songbird Initiative

    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

    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

    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

    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

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

    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…

Abbreviations Key

  • Abbreviations on Provincial Pages

    Observatory WebsiteSatellite View
    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

    WebsiteSatellite View
  • Parks Canada

    WebsiteSatellite View
    A useful site to gather background information if you are considering travelling to Canada.
  • Wetlands

    WebpageSatellite View
    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
  • Bird Treks

    Tour Operator
    Bird Treks has been providing small group and custom birding tours for over 20 years. Visit their website to see the incredible tours available, including British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Quebec!
  • 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, 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 to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2002 [05 May] - Bo Beolens

    PDF Report
    This was the second annual overseas trip of the disabled birders association The trips are designed for dba (now called ‘Birding For All’)) members and others who have mobility problems. This trip had 8 participants, 3 wheelchair users (including one person who cannot stand or walk at all), three people with moderate walking difficulty and two able bodied people. In fact, there were 4 married couples. Participants were Bo & Maggie Crombet-Beolens (Bo is otherwise known as the Fatbirder), Brian & Joanna Anderson, Lawrence & Anne Robinson [all of whom went on the previous dba trip to Kenya] and John & Selina Cook.
  • 2017 [03 March] - Sam Woods - Winter Owls and Boreal Birding

    PDF Report
    This short custom tour was set up at the last minute (in early February), when news came through of fair numbers of Great Gray Owls around at that time in Ontario. The person, for whom this was arranged, had the main objective of finding this so-called “Phantom of the North”...
  • 2018 [08 August] - Greg Smith

    PDF Report
    The walk back to the hotel produced an alternate-plumaged Common Loon, Pine Siskin, Black-capped Chickadee, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.
  • 2019 [07 July] - Greg Smith - Fins & Fiddles A Canadian Maritimes Cruise-

    PDF Report
    The day began with fine weather, so fine that some of us did a wildlife and bird walk along the Sydney River and over to Wentworth Park. Our first sighting was several American mink’s that use the rock revetment along the river as both foraging grounds and home base. We saw at least five different individuals as we worked our way along the river.
Other Links
  • Bird Studies Canada

    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

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

    Nature 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
  • Species at Risk in Canada

    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

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

    John Gordon listening to birds
  • Trevor & Ashley - The Bird Nerds

    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.
Photographers & Artists
  • Garry Coldwells

    Excellent shots from the Canadian photographer

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