Guess what: it’s getting to be one of the best times of the year to birdwatch in Niagara and St. Catharines has some of the best spots around to see the feathered set.
Diverse natural areas, including forests, wetlands, open fields, shorelines, creeks and lakes, offer different bird species places to feed, rest and nest. There’s an abundance of natural areas in St. Catharines, many of which are easily accessible.
As part of the Great Lakes region Niagara is on a migratory bird path and a large variety of species fly through St. Catharines in the spring and fall. However, there are always exciting to see any time of year: the numbers and types of birds will change depending on the season.
It’s important to remember when birdwatching to respect wildlife and habitats and to be aware of your impact on the environment.
- Stay a safe distance from birds and avoid disturbing their nests or feeding areas.
- Don’t play recordings of bird calls as it can be stressful and disruptive.
- Stay on trails and follow posted park rules, instructions and regulations.
- Take care to not trample vegetation and don’t litter. Carry out everything you carry in.
- Don’t try to capture, handle, or harm birds (or other wildlife).
- Share what you know about the importance of respecting birds and their habitats.
- With a diverse range of habitats and species to discover, St. Catharines is a great place to birdwatch.
St. Catharines Hotspots
There are several great places in St. Catharines, from Port Wellar to the Niagara Escarpment, where you can find a variety of bird species:
Short Hills Provincial Park
Short Hills Provincial Park is a 735-hectare natural environment park. Features such as the Niagara Escarpment and Carolinian Forests, waterfalls, wetlands and meadows make great for birdwatching. The Friends of Short Hills Park advise significant bird species in the park include the Great Horned Owl, Indigo bunting, Bobolink, Baltimore Oriole, and Scarlet Tanager.
Twelve Mile Creek
Around 10 km of trails following Twelve Mile Creek, including Participark Trail and the Merritt Trail, cut through St. Catharines from Martindale Road to Brock University. The Twelve Mile Creek provides habitat for a variety of bird species, including Acadian flycatcher, hooded warbler, Louisiana waterthrush and Kentucky warbler.
Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm
You’ll find a diverse range of birds in a natural, outdoor setting at this City-owned, one-hectare park. Happy Rolph’s also features nature trails and connects to the 9/11 Memorial Walkway along Lake Ontario. Pack a picnic lunch or stop by the nearby roadside food stands.
A unique natural park in north St. Catharines, Malcolmson Eco Park features offers opportunities to explore and learn about native flora and fauna. Nature trails wind through the park and connect to the Welland Canal Parkway Trail and the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail. There’s a long list of bird species that can be seen at the park.
Keep an eye on the time and weather
Birds can be more active during certain times of the day and in certain weather conditions.
Bring binoculars and a field guide
Binoculars, scopes and telephoto lenses allow you to stay at safe distance and avoid disturbing nests. A field guide will help you identify what you see. Don’t worry, if you don’t have these things, there’s still much to enjoy.
Be patient, be quiet and listen
Birds can spook easily so approach birding areas quietly and slowly. Listen for bird calls and wait for them to come to you.
Listen for bird calls
Bird calls are a great way to locate birds. Learn the calls of common birds in your area and listen for them as you explore.
Wear comfortable shoes, layer up and be prepared for changing weather and terrain.
Remember to respect the wildlife and habitats.