Our favourite bird watching destinations
With the arrival of spring and warmer temperatures, April and May are a great time for bird watching. Both amateur and more experienced birders are able to watch these feathered wonders from spring to fall at a number of Québec national parks: Îles-de-Boucherville, Frontenac, Bic, Plaisance, Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Roché-Percé, Lac-Témiscouata and Fjord-du-Saguenay.
Bird watching is very accessible because it requires little equipment and can be done everywhere. Let yourself be charmed by the chirping of birds and head out on an ornithological excursion!
For a number of ornithologists, the onset of May means that it’s time for the Grand Défi organized by Regroupement QuébecOiseaux (in French only), this year from May 1 to 31. Birders will adore this activity! Each team of participants chooses a day during which they must watch as many birds as possible.
Teams of bird watchers will be present in some national parks as part of the Grand Défi QuébecOiseaux. Join them for an introduction to ornithology!
- Parc national d'Aiguebelle: May 25, 2019
- Parc national du Bic: May 1 to 31, 2019
- Parc national de Frontenac: May 25, 2019
- Parc national des Grands-Jardins: May 1 to 31, 2019
- Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie: May 1 to 31, 2019
- Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville: May 18 and 19, 2019
- Parc national du Mont-Mégantic: May 25 and 26, 2019
- Parc national du Mont-Orford: May 1 to 31, 2019
- Parc national du Mont-Saint-Bruno: May 10 to 12, 2019
- Parc national d'Oka: May 18 to 20, 2019
- Parc national de Plaisance: May 1 to 31, 2019
- Parc national de la Yamaska: May 1 to 31, 2019
Parc national de Plaisance is a choice spot for watching a wide variety of birds. The park is located at the heart of an important migration corridor, a prime setting for ornithological activities. Early in the spring and fall, a number of bird species pause at the park, which serves as a rest stop during their migration.
Among the 250 species of birds that can be watched, nearly one hundred nest here. Parc national de Plaisance includes a wide variety of habitats that host different bird species, thus enabling ornithologists to watch a vast array of birds only a short hike of a few kilometers away.
The park also features a great many ducks. The north shore of the Ottawa River, located at la edge of the park, is one of the best places in North America for waterfowl watching. Among the 25 species that have been observed so far, around a dozen nest here during summer.
Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville is a favourite spot for many ornithologists. The park’s wide range of habitats makes it an ideal place for a number of species. Uncultivated fields, aquatic areas, and forest groves are just a few of the settings to be found in the park.
Certain bird species are very widespread and approachable, while others are rarer and more skittish. The yellow warbler, American Goldfinch, Catbird, Northern Flicker, and Eastern Kingbird are among the ubiquitous species. On the other hand, the Least Bittern, is the most difficult one to spot.
The vast array of habitats in Parc national de Frontenac is very impressive indeed. Such diversity attracts more than 200 bird species from 42 different families in and around the park. Among these species, we find the Great Blue Huron, the park’s emblematic bird due to its impressive nesting site.
The park features various settings suitable for land birds. Indeed, agricultural land can be found in many places at the edge of the park. This is a prime environment for watching birds of prey. What’s more, La Tourbière, located in Saint-Daniel sector, is by all accounts one of the only places where the Palm Warbler can be watched during its nesting period.
Among aquatic birds, the Common Loon is among the park's well known nesters. These birds arrive in the spring after the ice melts and settle down to nest. Others will only stop by before continuing their migratory journey.
Parc national du Bic offers another prime environment for watching birds of prey. During the spring, 16 species of birds of prey are regularly reported. Belvédère Raoul-Roy is a favourite spot for ornithologists because it’s close to a migration corridor. Indeed, from the end of March until the beginning of June, thousands of birds of prey take this route, passing right over the observation deck.
The best time to watch the 15 or so species on hand is from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. During this period, birds of prey such as the Golden Eagle, Osprey, Rough-legged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, and many others soar above the park.
Over the years, Réservoir Choinière of Parc national de la Yamaska has become an attractive living environment for nearly 240 bird species while remaining an essential migratory stopover for waterfowl and shorebirds. As such, Réservoir Choinière is recognized as an “aquatic bird concentration area.” Congregatory migratory birds, such as the Canada goose and snow goose, stop here in great numbers during fall and sometimes offer spectacular take-off displays. The area immediately around the waterway is a perfect spot to watch shorebirds such as sandpipers, plovers, and other waders.
A number of activities are offered throughout the season.
As the nesting ground for 110,000 gannets, Bonaventure Island is a must-visit destination for ornithologists. The colony has settled on the island, a prime spot for their reproduction. In addition, being on an island, the seabird colony is protected from a number of predators, thus ensuring its survival and safety. The proximity of the Gulf of St. Lawrence means that this species can easily find enough to eat. Visitors can admire gannets up close from the beginning of May 20 to October 14, 2019.
The emblematic animal of Parc du Lac-Témiscouata is the Bald Eagle, one of the birds that frequent the park along with more than 150 other species. The Touladi lakes and Lac Témiscouata are waterways where you might glimpse the eagle as it soars.
The park team has installed a camera in the midst of the territory’s nesting ground, making it possible to watch the eagle lead its daily life without causing disruption. You can meet the park warden who will show you pictures and videos taken by the camera so you can learn more about this family of eagles.
Fall is the ideal season for bird watching at Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay. A trip to Tadoussac is certainly in order for the fall migration period. The Observatoire des oiseaux de Tadoussac (Tadoussac bird observatory, or OOT), the park's scientific partner, identifies the species found in the park (in French only).
OOT has also been carrying out night monitoring of the Northern Saw-whet Owl and the Boral Owl every fall since 1996. Owls are captured in a mist net, banded, and then returned to nature. OOT activities have revealed a four-year abundance cycle for this species.