A fascinating pastime, bird watching is becoming increasingly popular and the exciting opportunities in this region draw many tourists from afar to share in the pursuit of feathered friends with the locals.
Our region is home to a diverse variety of birds all through the year, and is also an important part of the Spring and Fall migratory routes. Migrating birds prefer to minimize time spent flying across open water and the Essex Region forms a peninsula dipping down into the Great Lakes providing birds with the shortest route across. At peak times, birds flock across the county in their thousands as the peninsula has a funneling effect.
Our Conservation Areas provide important resting areas as these birds make their long journeys, and also offer year round habitat for non-migratory birds. Our CAs are equipped with convenient parking areas, pleasant trails and good viewing areas. Some include viewing towers and informative signage so that everyone has the chance to experience the pleasure of bird watching.
Where to Enjoy this Activity
For a list of birding events happening throughout the year, visit www.erca.org/birding
The Cedar Creek basin is probably the most significant, most extensive, and most beautiful natural area in the Essex Region. Drop a canoe in the water and explore by paddle power. You will be sure to see significant bird activity here.
Chrysler Canada Greenway
This 50 kilometre abandoned railway trail serves as a green link between important habitat areas. Bird watchers are sure to find many species of interest in the trees and vegetation along here.
Devonwood Conservation Area
With over 4.5 kilometres of trails through this beautiful and diverse woodland, there is always the opportunity to enjoy bird watching – particularly with various owl species. Nature can be found even in the city!
Hillman Marsh Conservation Area
A significant and beautiful marsh habitat throughout the year, Hillman Marsh is particularly popular in May during the spring migration, especially with the addition of the unique Shorebird Habitat which commonly attracts rare species. The Spring Shore and Songbird Celebration event attracts hundreds of visitors. Hillman is located just minutes from Point Pelee National Park, and can easily be combined with a visit to nearby Kopegaron Woods Conservation Area.
Holiday Beach Conservation Area
In addition to being dedicated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) of global significance by Bird Studies Canada, Holiday Beach Conservation Area was also recently named by Audubon Magazine as the best place in Canada for Hawk Watching – third best in all of North America. Adjacent to Big Creek, the largest wetland area in the vicinity, Holiday Beach is one of the few remaining places offering appropriate breeding habitat for the dazzling Prothonotary Warbler. Herons and Egrets can regularly be seen wading the shallow waters. In September the masses of migrating raptors including Broad-wings, Falcons and Eagles as well as Monarch butterflies and dragonflies can be observed from the Hawk Tower, one of the most exciting birding locations in the county. The Festival of Hawks is a highlight on the birder’s calendar during the second and third weekends in September.
Kopegaron Woods Conservation Area
Provides excellent woodland birding during the migration period. Colourful warblers at this site can often rival the beautiful blanket of spring wildflowers.
Maidstone Conservation Area
With boardwalk and trails through the woodland and along the banks of the Puce River, Maidstone Conservation Area provides a pleasant natural habitat location to enjoy bird watching.
Ruscom Shores Conservation Area
A small marsh situated on the south shore of Lake St. Clair between Belle River and Stoney Point that attracts shore/marsh birds and waterfowl during migration and breeding season.
Stone Road Alvar Conservation Area
This Conservation Area protects an incredible diversity of flora and fauna and is a rarity in this region and also beyond. Well worth the enjoyable trip to Pelee Island for any birder, with lots to discover including the Carolinian bird species such as the yellow-breasted chat and the blue-gray gnatcatcher like the property’s dense thickets.
Tremblay Beach Conservation Area
A viewing tower provides an excellent vantage point to observe the varied bird species that thrive in this shoreline marsh area.
Petite Côte Conservation Area
With a new viewing tower constructed in 2007, this marsh and riparian area is an outstanding location to observe birding activity.
- Bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, water, binoculars and camera.
- You may also want to take a bird identification reference book, a notebook and a pen.
- To see the most diverse array of birds, generally arrive earlier in the morning