Great festivals & events for celebrating spring in Ontario’s Southwest.

Looking to get outside after a long, dreary winter and and celebrate spring’s arrival in a whole new way? This spring, take advantage of the fact that you’re just a short drive from one of the world’s best locations for experiencing the spring migration of up to 270 species of birds.

If the thought of bird watching brings to mind visions of sitting silently for hours on end waiting for something interesting to fly in front of your binoculars, these six fun festivals will quickly change your mind. From family-friendly programming, to guided hikes, educational workshops, competitive challenges, and special guests like Margaret Atwood, these festivals prove that bird watching is anything but boring.

Wings of Spring
Rondeau Provincial Park
March 11 – 19, 2017

You’ll find all kinds of March Break family fun at Rondeau Provincial Park during the Wings of Spring Festival, including birdhouse building, bird feeder making, children’s crafts, scavenger hunts, guided hikes, waterfowl viewing, and much more.

Return of the Swans

Return of the Swans Festival
Old Thedford Bog
March 11 – April 2, 2017

Grand Bend attracts Tundra swans by the thousands to feed and rest in the natural 'staging' place known as the Thedford Bog before continuing to their summer nesting grounds in the high arctic.  The Lambton Heritage Museum celebrates this chance to see so many birds in their natural habitat with The Return of the Swans Festival. After watching the swans rest and feed in the fields directly behind the museum, go inside to learn more about these amazing birds with great exhibits and excellent family activities.

Festival of Birds
Point Pelee National Park
May 1 – May 22, 2017

Point Pelee National Park is one of the world’s premiere birding destinations, and this two-week festival attracts birders from across the globe. Whether you’re an avid birder or just looking to see what this popular pastime is all about, there is a wide range of guided hikes and workshops offered to suit a wide variety of experience levels and specific interests. Join Bird Studies Canada Biologist and Science Educator Jody Allair for an Introduction to Birding program May 6th and 7th at the Festival of Birds.

Boardwalk at Point Pelee Park

Festival of Flight
Rondeau Provincial Park
May 1 – 21, 2017

Each May thousands of birders flock to Rondeau Provincial Park to watch the thousands of birds that migrate through the park. Expert-led bird hikes take place twice each day during the festival and the Birder’s Breakfast and Lunch events are a great way to meet fellow birders. There’s also a 24-hour Big Day Birding Competition.

Shore and Songbird Celebration
Hillman Marsh Conservation Area
May 1 – 22, 2017

Over one hundred species of birds use Hillman as a migration stopover, and attending this annual celebration is a great way to see them for yourself. Watch for the nesting pair of Bald eagles as well as frequently spotted annual rarities such as the Yellow-headed Blackbird, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Eurasian Wigeon, Glossy Ibis and Eastern Kingbird. Get closer than you ever imagined to songbirds and shorebirds as you watch experts at on-site banding stations. Event occurs Wednesdays through Mondays from May 1 - May 22.

Close-up Bird at Observatory

Learn to Bird Workshop
Long Point Bird Observatory
May 13, 2017

From warblers, thrushes, and swallows to waterfowl, spring migration brings a large diversity of birds to Ontario. Join Bird Studies Canada Biologist and Science Educator Jody Allair for an Introduction to Birding program. This event is free and is a great fit for anyone who has thought about taking up birding but didn’t know where to start! Click here to learn more & sign up for the workshop!

Springsong Celebration
Pelee Island Heritage Centre
May 12 – 14, 2017

Whether you’re a fan of birds or a lover of books, this event is sure to please. Beloved Canadian author, Margaret Atwood brings award-winning authors this Pelee Island festival each spring for an incredibly popular banquet. This year’s featured author is Michael Crummey. The weekend also features the Botham Cup Bird Race, a 24-hour “green” bird race and rally where teams have 24 hours to spot as many of the 311 species of birds that visit Pelee Island. The winners take home the coveted Rubber Chicken Award, presented by Margaret Atwood at the Springsong Banquet.

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