Canada’s vast wilderness tracts attract outdoor lovers of every stripe.
In the boreal expanses that stretch from northern Alberta clear across to Quebec, frigid winters and reliable snow cover make for world-class Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and (where permitted) snowmobiling. In summer, the country’s countless lakes — most of which aren’t accessible by road — draw canoers, kayakers, and anglers.
No matter what you like to do outside, Canada has you covered.
One quintessentially Canadian natural pursuit in particular is on the rise: bird watching. Canada’s dense forests provide crucial summer breeding grounds for countless species of fowl, including birds of prey and water birds. These seven spots are among the best places to catch some of these majestic creatures in action.
1. Cape St. Mary’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Cape St. Mary’s is home to one of the most diverse seabird communities on Canada’s Atlantic seaboard. Roughly two hours’ drive out of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital, it’s not exactly accessible — but it’s on Newfoundland’s Avalon peninsula, which sure beats the rugged coast of Labrador, hundreds of miles to the north. Visit in mid- to late summer for best results.
2. Hecla Island, Manitoba
Protected in its entirety by Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park, Hecla Island is a magnet for migratory birds and year-round fowl alike. It’s one of the best places in the country to find double-breasted cormorants and ring-billed gulls in their natural habitat; both species claim tens of thousands of nesting pairs in the broader Interlake region. Your best opportunity to see local critters is the Grassy Narrows Marsh Trail. Then, when the sun goes down, head over to Gull Harbour Marina, a small lakeside resort recently refurbished by new owners Lori and David Janeson.
3. Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba
Not too far from Hecla Island, and less than an hour from downtown Winnipeg, Oak Hammock Marsh preserves a pristine prairie wetland that houses countless ducks, geese, and more exotic fowl. In terms of sheer volume, variety, and accessibility, it’s arguably the best place in Manitoba to spot migratory birds.
4. Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario
This forested sandspit juts out several kilometers out into Lake Erie. Its native warbler and cuckoo populations are among Ontario’s most vibrant, and it’s the epicenter of a vast hawk migration that occurs without fail each spring and fall.
5. George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, British Columbia
Framed by towering mountains, this pristine section of the Fraser River Delta provides a stunning backdrop for the annual snow geese migration. It’s also a crucial stopping point for sea and land birds migrating up and down the Pacific Coast each year — not to mention a slew of fishing birds that make their homes here year-round.
6. Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Mont Tremblant is best known as a snowsports destination. It has, arguably, the best downhill skiing in eastern North America.
But it’s more than just a must-visit spot for adrenaline junkies. In early autumn, when the mountain comes alive with brilliant fall colors, birders flock to catch glimpses of bald eagles, ospreys, falcons, and other birds of prey gorging on fish caught fresh from nearby waters. There’s no better backdrop for the display than majestic Tremblant — and a weekend visit to the area is a great opportunity to brush up on your French. If you’re not willing to pay resort prices, camping abounds in the surrounding woods.
Got a favorite place for birdwatching in Canada? Tell us in the comments section below.