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Point Pelee National Park of Canada

Spring Migration

Monthly Summaries of Spring Migrants


May is the month dear to the hearts of most birders, since it is possible to see more species at the height of migration (about mid-May) than at any other time of year. Now many of the long-distance, land bird migrants arrive, many from Central and South America. It is interesting that these migrants from afar arrive on more predictable dates each year than do those spending the winter closer to Ontario.

Weather plays an important role in the numbers of a species one is likely to see. On rare occasions there will be a "grounding" of migrants due to inclement weather, and it is then that astounding numbers of certain species will descend on Point Pelee. This phenomena, however, is the exception, rather than the rule.

Most of the waterfowl migration is over by early to mid-May and many of the April land bird migrants as well have already passed through.

Early (before the 7th)

Lincoln's Sparrow
Northern Parula
Black Scoter (rare)
Magnolia Warbler
Least Sandpiper
Surf Scoter(rare)
Black-bellied Plover
Short-billed Dowitcher
Cape May Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Wilson's Phalarope (rare)
Black Tern
Blackburnian Warbler
Eastern Kingbird
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Prairie Warbler (rare)
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Common Yellowthroat
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-breasted Chat
Red-eyed Vireo
Swainson's Thrush
Hooded Warbler (rare)
Warbling Vireo
Northern Oriole
Gray-cheeked Thrush
American Redstart
Yellow-throated Vireo
Golden-winged Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Indigo Bunting
White-crowned Sparrow
Tennessee Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Black-throated Blue Warbler

Mid-May (after the 7th)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Least Bittern
Semipalmated Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
Eastern Wood-pewee
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Sedge Wren
Philadelphia Vireo
Common Nighthawk
Prothonotary Warbler (rare)
Willow Flycatcher
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Blackpoll Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Black-billed Cuckoo
Chuck-will's-widow (rare)
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Alder Flycatcher

* most numerous between May 18th and 23rd

Most warblers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers, orioles, flycatchers, etc, are abundant between May 10 to 20. Towards the end of May, red knot, one of the latest migrants, will arrive and at this time several other shorebirds are found in great numbers.