Fun ways to get out and play with some birds of prey this fall

Ontario’s Southwest is home to some of the best hawk watching in North America and the fall is one of the best times to sight these amazing birds as they begin their migration south. Whether you join in the fun at a birding festival or event, interact with the experts at a bird banding station, or just take in the big sky views at our world-class conservation areas, you’ll be glad you made the trip.

Fall Bird Festivals and Events

Wild Ontario Birds of Prey Demonstration
Point Pelee National Park, Leamington
September 2nd & 3rd, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Join Wild Ontario at the Point Pelee Visitor Centre and see a thrilling birds of prey demonstration. After the show, head to some of the park’s prime viewing spots, which include The Tip, the parking lot at the Visitor Centre and the Delaurier Trail parking lot. If you visit Point Pelee later in the fall watch for Peregrines in late September and early October and Golden Eagles from mid‐October to early November. 

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Festival of Hawks
Holiday Beach Migration Observatory, Essex County
Sept 9th - 10th & 16th - 17th

Holiday Beach is ranked as the top hawk watching site in Canada by Audubon Magazine, and the third best in all of North America. Each fall the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory pulls out all the stops for their annual Festival of Hawks. This year visitors can enjoy guided nature hikes, hawk identification workshops and informative sessions on how to use binoculars and field guides. There are also bird banding demonstrations, live bird displays and a Kids Zone which has nature crafts, water insects and face-painting. Be sure to climb the Hawk Tower for prime viewing of winged creatures of all kinds.

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Hawk Cliff Weekends
Hawk Cliff, Union
Sept 9th - 10th & 16th - 17th

Join TTLT staff and volunteers for expertly guided tours of the 230-acre Hawk Cliff property. See diverse habitats of songbirds, plants, butterflies and the hawk migration.

Ruthven For The Birds Festival
Ruthven Park National Historic Site, Cayuga
Oct. 21st

The Ruthven For The Birds Festival is a  family-friendly event at Ruthven Park National Historic Site that offers visitors a chance to join in on the bird census, bird banding demonstrations, a bug walk, and much more.

Hawk Cliff Hawkwatch
Hawk Cliff, Union
Sept. 1st - Nov. 30th (most days)

Hawk Cliff is recognized as one of the prime fall migration hawk watching destinations in North America and for good reason. During peak volume, flights can reach as many as 60,000+ birds (or higher) in a day and during peak variety of species, all 15 of the usual Hawk Cliff raptor species can be viewed in a single day.

Banding Stations

If you can’t time your visit with one of the region’s fall birding events, there are still plenty of options for fall migration activities. The banding stations listed below offer a fascinating window into how birds are tracked during their winter travels. Banding involves placing a small numbered metal tag on the legs of birds so their movement can be tracked over their lifetime. While banding is being done visitors have the opportunity to see birds at a much closer range than is normally possible.

Pelee Island Heritage Centre, Pelee Island

Some 310 species have been spotted in Canada’s southernmost community and Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve is a fall migration hotspot. While you’re there be sure to plan a visit to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory’s Research Station, which is open to visitors during the fall migration.

Bird Studies Canada National Headquarters, Port Rowan

This not-for-profit organization dedicated to bird conservation provides a habitat for a number of species on 32 acres that includes walking trails, an observation deck, interpretive displays and owl banding that visitors can observe.

Long Point Bird Observatory Old Cut Research Station, Port Rowan

This epicentre for birding in Long Point attracts some 325 recorded species and features paths that take visitors to a number of mist nets, a visitor centre and a banding lab. During migration, banding demonstrations occur from 9 am until noon daily, weather permitting.

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Rock Point Provincial Park, Dunnville

Rock Point’s wooded areas, marshes and beaches are ideal for viewing shorebirds and warblers and 260 recorded species. A banding station and platform above the sand dunes also offer special viewing opportunities. During the fall migration the banding station at this provincial park operates from August 15 to September 1 from sunrise until 10 a.m., and from September 1 to November 4 from sunrise until 6 hours later.

Ruthven Park, Cayuga

Located along an inland river corridor and set in Carolinian forest, Ruthven features over 10 stations with mist nets and a special banding lab that provides the opportunity to join expert banders as they record data. In the fall the banding station at this National Historic Site operates daily from early September to early November. Typically, migration monitoring and bird banding run from sunrise until about noon.

Want even more inspiration for a fall birding getaway? Be sure to download a copy of our South Coast Birding Trail Map.