Bird migration slow but varied after extreme winter weather

The harsh Ontario winter led to a slow start to the bird-watching season.

Some species bypassing Point Pelee National Park all together this spring

Bird Watching is Behind

9 years ago
Duration 2:31
The bird watching season is off to a slow start due to the long, harsh winter.

The harsh Ontario winter led to a slow start to the bird-watching season.

Experts say in late April, there were five breeding species in Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ont., the southern most tip of Canada. At the same time last year, there were 34.

Todd Pepper has been giving birding tours around the park for the last decade. This season has been different than most.

"They get to Texas, their flower isn't out or it's cold or whatever and they'll move north as conditions permit themselves," Pepper said of migratory birds.

Pepper says large numbers of birds that were expected to land here in early May are only now flying into the park. Some are flying past the park all together.

While the migration has been slow, the variety of birds remains pretty much on par with past seasons.

"People who a year ago maybe booked their hotels or they're restaurants and they're bed and breakfasts to come and stay here, while they got good birds, in fact, we had some very rare birds," he said. "What we didn't have is the regular breeding birds."

Sue Milks is a veteran bird watcher who made her way from Ottawa to Leamington at just the right time.

"All the birders come to Point Pelee. It's the place to come for spring migration so we thought we had to come here at least once," she said.

Pepper says most of the park's breeding birds have now arrived.

On a good day birders can spot up to 100 different species such as warblers, hummingbirds and tanagers.

Even first-time watchers come with the hope of spotting their favorite bird spread its wings.

"I would like to see a scarlet Tanager," Marlene Teigrob  said. "They're brilliant red and I've seen one before and I know there's a lot here. I'd be really excited for that."

For Linda Beale it's the experience in nature that has kept her coming back for the past 15 years.

"It's kind of like solving little mysteries. You hear something, you see something, you wonder what it is. You look at it, you're not quite sure, you try to remember all the little details, you look it up in the book," Beale said.

The good news for bird watcher is that an endangered bird is expected in the park this year.

The yellow breasted chat hasn't been spotted here in two years. Point Pelee National Park is one of the 10 places the songbird makes its nest in Ontario.