Essential Tips and Top Birding Hotspots
Birdwatching is a great way to spend time outdoors in Algoma Country. It’s an activity that’s great for families and groups of friends where you’ll get lots of fresh air and exercise.
If you’re new to birdwatching here are some basics you’ll need:
- Field Guide or App
- Sturdy shoes or hiking boots
There are many locations throughout the region to bird watch and in this article, we’ve highlighted 3 sites that are well-known birding hotspots.
Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site
This Parks Canada site is situated on a natural wetland with wooded trails and is home to a variety of species of wildlife, waterfowl, and songbirds. Situated on the city’s waterfront at the mouth of the rapids, the trails on South St. Marys Island are a great place for birding. Catch the spring and fall migration and you may see waterfowl like Mallards, or warblers like the Yellow-rumped or Orange-crowned. In the winter, you may see the Common Goldeneye or a Great Horned Owl. The site is open from June to October, but South St. Marys Island and neighbouring Whitefish Island are open year.
Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site
More than 200 species of raptor, waterfowl, songbirds, and shorebirds have been identified on the grounds of this national historic site. Located on St. Joseph Island, the Fort is Federally recognized as a bird sanctuary. Four nature trails on the site wind their way through the forest, each with its own unique story: The Rains Point Trail, the Cemetery Trail, the LaPointe Point Trail and the Voyageur Trail. The site is open yearly from June to September. Some species that have been spotted include American Tree Sparrows, Magnolia Warblers, and Scarlet Tanagers.
Other Activities You Can Do At These Sites: Rent a Fatbike to ride the trails, watch boats locking through, or view freighters in the channel, book a guided tour, participate in annual events like heritage teas and demonstrations, relax on the grounds in a red chair
This land trust is in Johnson Township and works to protect the lands and waters through conservation and preservation. The nature preserve has 3.5 km of hiking trails in an area of mixed forest, protected shoreline, and significant wetland, with additional trails at the Gravel Point Preserve. You may spot songbirds like Cedar Waxwings and other forest birds like the Purple Finch. In the fall, sightings have included warblers like the Blackpoll and Northern Flicker.
Other Activities: Take part in the Desbarats Christmas Bird Count, or sign up for guided hikes
Chapleau Crown Game Preserve
This is the largest crown game preserve in the world with over 2 million acres and is home to a variety of wildlife like moose, bear, fox and also, approximately 119 species of bird. Visitors can access the southeastern portion of the preserve from the town of Chapleau. Missinaibi Provincial Park is a great base to spend the day in the beautiful boreal forest in what is known worldwide as the “Songbird Nursery” of North America! You could potentially listen and spot forest birds like Swainson’s Thrush, White-throated Sparrow, Hermit Thrush Catharus and Northern Waterthrush.
Other Activities: Swimming, Canoeing and Kayaking rentals available at the provincial park
Where Else Can I Birdwatch?
Several provincial parks in Algoma Country are perfect for birdwatching. When visiting parks, please make sure to purchase day passes, and respect park conservation and preservation rules. Also, it’s important to know the difference between operating and non-operating parks. Operating Parks provide recreational activities, day-use areas and overnight and interior camping. There is staff on-site, and these parks may also have visitor centres, park stores and other services and amenities and require day-use passes and reservations for campsites. Non-operating parks are free to use with road access, while others you may have to hike or paddle into. Some parks will allow camping, while others may not.
Check the Ontario Parks website to confirm the type of park you are visiting when planning your trip.
Birding Resource: use https://ebird.org/explore and type in the name of the provincial park into the Explore regions search bar.
- Sault Naturalists – birding checklists, programs, planned outings
- Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas – bird identification resources
- Forests Ontario Bird Identification Guide
Free Birding Apps:
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