Bird Watching in Montreal
Birdwatching in Montreal can be a satisfactory activity all year long. Although the variety of bird species differ between seasons, there are always opportunities to spot beautiful and interesting birds. It is though helpful to know how to prepare yourself and then when to go where. This article will provide important information for successful birdwatching strolls in Montreal’s urban or nature parks.
Get some season appropriate clothing and shoes. In early spring, you will need water proof boots. In April, water of melting snow will accumulate in small ponds and without water proof boots you will soak your socks full of mud and water.
The parks you will visit while birdwatching in Montreal are always close to shelter and if the weather turns worse you will be able to rush back fast.
Make sure your mobile bird id app like "Merlin ID" or "eBirds" is up-to-date, the latest content patches downloaded. Get a handy binocular. In many cases you will have to get a close look at a bird to determine its id.
Species & Locations
This table provides an overview of when and where we spotted different species and which are our preferred locations for photography or documentary. For some additional notes, see the text below.
|Birds of Prey|
|Cooper's Hawk||Park Angrignon||Jan-Dec||Rare|
|Red-shouldered Hawk||Park Bernard-Landry||Jan-Dec||Rare|
|Peregrine Falcon||Belvedere Outremont||Jan-Dec||Rare|
|Eastern Screech Owl||Park Angrignon||Jan-Mar||Rare|
|Turkey Vulture||Any park||Apr-Oct||Common|
|Great Blue Heron||Rapids Park Lachine, Park Angrignon||Apr-Nov||Common|
|Great Egret||Rapids Park Lachine||May-Aug||Rare|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||Rapids Park Lachine, St. Eustache||May-Aug||Rare|
|Green Heron||Park Pointe-aux-Prairies||May-Aug||Very Rare|
|Pileated Woodpecker||Park Angrignon||Jan-Dec||Sometimes|
|Hairy Woodpecker||Any park||Jan-Dec||Sometimes|
|Downy Woodpecker||Any park||Jan-Dec||Common|
|Northern Flicker||Any park||Apr-Oct||Sometimes|
Birds of Prey
Beautiful birds like the Cooper's Hawk or Red-shouldered Hawk are around in Montreal parks all year long. There are though certain locations and seasons when there is an increased chance to spot one of these. Because of the lack of leaves, these birds are easier to spot during the months January till April. There are known nesting places for both species. (Muuuh doesn't publish nesting place locations)
You don't have to go to parks for a chance to see Merlins and Peregrine Falcons. These species nest und hunt in the streets of Montreal. For Peregrine Falcons go to Outremont Belvedere in May or June. They are nesting nearby and you may see them soaring.
Owls, in particular the Eastern Screech Owl, can be spotted with a high chance in Park Angrignon in January to March. This species occupies specific spots in the forest area of the park. Walk along the pathways through the forest and look out for wildlife photographers. They use to concentrate below a Screech Owl resting place ;).
Turkey Vulture doesn't spend all year in the Montreal area. This species usually leaves in November and returns in April or May. Outremont Belvedere is a good place to watch this species soaring over forest and streets while looking for food.
Herons don't spend all year long in the Montreal area. They leave in November and return after the ice on ponds and lakes has disappeared. The best place to spot herons is Rapids Park Lachine. There is a high change to spot the largest heron species, the Great Blue Heron.
Less frequently you may see a Great Egret. Great Blue Heron and Great Egret are competing for food resources where the Great Blue Heron dominates though.
In Rapids Park Lachine you also can see the Black-crowned Night Heron. This smaller heron species is fishing along creeks but hides very well and requires some patient to be spotted.
Finally, in the area there is also the Green Heron, our favorite but the shyest member of the heron family. Our recommended place to watch this species is Park Pointe-aux-Prairies, northern section, in June.
The members of the woodpeckers family you can see often in parks in Montreal are Woody Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker. Except Northern Flicker, these species are staying in Montreal all year long and can be seen in most of the parks. We recommend the forest area in Park Angrignon.
Northern Flicker is migratory and returns to Montreal in late April. It is a noisy, active species and can be spotted nesting and foraging.
When we are visiting a park, we use Apple's "Notes" app to log each bird species identified. These log entries serve us later to have a better understanding about where and when a specific bird species can be seen. Together with the list of species seen, we also write down date, name of the park and weather conditions.
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