Bird watching is a fun activity that you can do all year round. All you really need is a pair of binoculars and a bird guide (or app) to help with identification.

Rouge National Urban Park is a great place to go bird watching—225 bird species have been observed here! Different species can be found in the park’s varied habitats, which include shoreline, forests, meadows, farmland and wetlands. Checkout some of the bird species found in the park here.

Barn swallows

© John Stager / Parks Canada

The time of day and time of year also affect which birds you might spot on your visit. While many birds are most active in the morning, birds of prey are often spotted during the middle of the day and most owls appear in the evening. Some birds spend their summers in the park or migrate through during the spring and fall, while others are year-round residents. Make sure to return during different times and seasons to see what new species you might encounter.

Backyard birding 101

The GTA is a ‘hot spot’ for birding. Bird watching is fun for the whole family and a great place to start is from the comfort of your own home! Don’t fret no backyard actually required if you don’t have one. Here are some tips to ignite your birding adventure:

  1. Gear and ID Guides
    Some key birding tools can make you a better birder! Binoculars, cameras, field guides and apps can all help extend not only your field of sight but your knowledge base as well. If you’re looking to go birding on a budget that is no problem. There are lots of free bird apps available and affordable binoculars. Even check out at your local library for bird books.

  2. Shapes, Silhouettes and Behaviours
    Some birds are masters of disguise and many times, very shy. So taking note of the general shape, silhouette and behaviour of birds are all great clues to solving the mystery. Are they perching? Soaring? Chubby? Have long beaks/legs? What the birds are doing and their shape can help you identify it!

  3. Habitats
    The characteristics of your backyard such as type of trees or type of food available can link to what kind of bird you should expect to see. Birds can overlap habitats so don’t expect to see just one species.

  4. Look, Listen and be Patient
    Pull up a chair, relax, and let the birds come to you! Look out for moving greenery or listen to bird calls, in many cases your ears better at birding than your eyes.

  5. Be a Birding Buddy
    Planting native berry and seed producing shrubs in your garden is a great way to attract birds to your home. If you want to get into bird feeding, it is important to be a supportive food source, rather than one that makes birds become dependant and lose their instinct to find wild food. The one thing birds don’t eat is people food. Never feed birds food like bread, it is very unhealthy for them! Also do your best to try and keep your pet cats and dogs away from birds. Cats are one of the main causes of bird population decline.

  6. Get out and try it!
    Birding is a very accessible past time, you can make it part of daily life year round. Learning from other birders and joining clubs are great ways to learn more.

Happy birding!