People from all over head to the Niagara region for a host of excellent reasons: the sight and sound of all that rushing water, the picturesque vineyards and the award-winning wines they produce, as well as the world-class performers and shows available throughout the year — to name a few, and while these reasons account for why most people visit, for the bird lover, bird watching is another reason to plan a trip to Niagara Falls. Here are a handful of bird-heavy places for the birder who finds himself in the Honeymoon Capital of the World.
The Niagara River
The Niagara River is arguably the best place in North America to watch gulls, and the view from the Canadian side is decidedly better than it is from the American side, which is more industrial and built up. Over the years, 19 different species of gull have been spotted on the Niagara River — the largest number of species ever recorded in one area in all of North America — and most years find anywhere from 12 to 14 frequenting the place during migration. Gulls you can expect to see include:
- Bonaparte’s Gull
- Ring-Billed Gull
- Lesser Black-Backed Gull
- Greater Black-Backed Gull
- Herring Gull
- California Gull
Of course, the Niagara River isn’t just a place to see gulls; ducks, geese, and swans also abound and make for an exciting day of birding.
Beamer Memorial Conservation Area
While they can be spied any time of year, the spring migration is a great time to see your fair share of raptors — hawks and bald eagles — from the viewing platforms set up at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, which is located on the Niagara Escarpment. The view itself is stunning here, but it’s the experience of the birds that’s most memorable. Instead of just sightings, however, you’ll get to experience these impressive predators at work, soaring, and diving through the sky as they keep a keen eye out for food below.
Mud Lake Conservation Area
Located next to the Old Welland Canal in Port Colborne, this conservation area includes over 160 acres of woodlands, field, and wetlands, and because it’s situated on a migratory path, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to see a wide range of birds. Rare bird sightings have been recorded here — and not just by expert birders, either. If you make the trek out to Mud Lake, you may see the following:
- Great Horned Owl
- Northern Cardinal
- American Wood Duck
- American Black Duck
- Black Crowned Night Heron
The Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area
A former limestone and clay quarry, this conservation area is a wealth of natural diversity, and it boasts over 50 species of bird, as well as plenty of fish, turtles, snakes, and plants. Birds that are readily sighted include yellow warblers, terns, sandpipers, egrets, gulls, and great blue herons. You can also see fossils of the flora and fauna that lived in the sea that covered the area 350 million years ago in the rocks walls and tables exposed by the quarry.
If you’re due for a bird-watching retreat, come to Niagara, where gulls, raptors, and warblers can be seen throughout the year.