16 must-see birding spots in southern Ontario

16 must-see birding spots in southern Ontario
Rock Point Provincial Park in southeastern Ontario. Photo by JamesJongPhotography/Shutterstock

Stretching along the north shore of Lake Erie for more than 350 miles is Canada’s most temperate region, aptly dubbed “the Riviera of Canada.” The region’s similarities with the Mediterranean coastline are surprising. Both lie along a latitude of around 42 degrees and enjoy a mild summer average temperature of 73°F.

With about a dozen provincial and national parks along the lake, the Canadian Riviera is a popular summer destination. The coastline is dotted with picturesque fishing villages and runs alongside rich agricultural fields. Most of these parks have languished in the shadow of their more famous cousin, Point Pelee National Park, and are waiting to be discovered by adventurous birdwatchers eager to explore their rich habitats. If you follow the coastline along King’s Highway 3 (commonly known as Highway 3) from Buffalo, New York to Detroit, Michigan, you’ll discover the many gems easily accessible from this major highway.

Subscribe today to BirdWatching magazine for tips, birding hotspots and more!


About 30 miles west of Buffalo is Rock Point Provincial Park, a 460-acre park with a long beach. It has an extensive network of hiking trails through mixed hardwood forest and beach dunes, including a promenade along the shore which is quite good for birdwatching. Wading birds and waterfowl are highlights of the park’s 267 species, and Rock Point is one of the few sites where purple sandpipers have been sighted in Ontario.

Traveling southwest along Highway 3, James N. Allan Provincial Park is a rather small hideaway with a half-mile of pebble-sand beach. Although nearly 150 acres of the park are wetlands and forests, access for bird watching is limited. A stop at the park, however, can be worthwhile during spring and fall migration to spot warblers and other songbirds.

See also  Get a Bird's Eye View of the Rainforest

black warblerThe black warbler is a common visitor to southern Ontario. Photo by Paul Reeves Photography/Shutterstock

A few miles north of the village of Cayuga, you’ll find the Haldimand Bird Observatory at Ruthven Park. The park is a historic site on the Grand River, with a Greek Revival mansion and excellent birding trails around the 1,500-acre site. Visitors are warmly welcomed at the park’s active banding station.

Nearby Selkirk Provincial Park and Peacock Point provide good birding habitat with a mix of red and white oak, maple, cherry, ash and beech. Shag hickories and thick brush in all wooded areas attract birds during migration.

The best birding is along the Wheeler’s Walk Trail, a mile-long trail that winds through the park’s woods and meadows. The park’s campground is a great site to find migrating songbirds, and you’re also likely to find a good variety of marsh birds and shorebirds along the shoreline marshes.