We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Point Pelee NP birding?

Which Leamington hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,139 posts
174 reviews
Save Topic
Point Pelee NP birding?

Hi,

We (husband and I) are heading to Point Pelee National Park for a brief birding trip during the migration festival. We'll only be there from May 19 about mid-morning until May 20 noon.

We've never been during the migration time and are looking for any hints on how to navigate the crowded park effectively and how to maximize our time in the park.

We are camping the one night at Sturgeon Woods Campground to minimize drive time (we hope).

Thanks for any tips you can share!

6 replies to this topic
Owen Sound, Canada
Level Contributor
628 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Point Pelee NP birding?

Well, as you know, migrant birds come in "waves' and it is just luck as to what the weather conditions [and thus bird activity] will be like the days you are there. One good thing -this Spring has been cooler than average, so leaf-out is late and chances are some trees will be quite a bit less than fully leafed out.

Sturgeon Woods is very close to the Park -just a few minutes drive, so that is good.

Your first afternoon I suggest you check in at the Park interpretive centre as soon as you arrive, IF, you don't see bird action along the road.[ Birds that arrive overnight often start out near the south end of the Park and work their way north during the day, and birding along the road and around some of the more northern picnic areas can often very good later in the day.] If you DO see bird action along the road just find a parking spot and start birding!

When you do make it to the Interpretive Centre [you might be directed to park somewhere north if the Interpretive Centre lot is full].check out the sightings book, and just ask, and you will get a good feel of where interesting birds have been seen. Tilden Woods has seasonal wet areas and can be very good warblers, tanagers etc...and is a two minute walk from the visitor centre.

I would spend the whole balance of the day in the Park checking out various trails that have had decent bird action that day.

It will be busy, no doubt, but at least you aren't going on a weekend, and 98% of the people are friendly and helpful.

A good spot for a picnic dinner is the Blue Heron Picnic Area. You have the marsh right there, and the willows around Blue Heron can be very good for warblers. There is a small snack bar there as well.

If the Park is good, just stay in the Park until dusk. American Woodcock will still likely be doing their courtship flights...always fun to see. Check at the Int. Ctr. for exact locations.

If things are slow at the Park I suggest you drive a few miles [ past farm fields sometimes good for shorebirds], to Hill man Marsh Conservation Area. They have a managed 60 acre cell that can be excellent for shorebirds. The more open water is good for terns and lingering ducks. The marsh has all of the typical marsh species, including Least Bittern.

Your second morning, be on the first tram to the Tip. Sometimes it can be "dead" but on a good day it can be wonderful. We've had Western Kingbird, Kirtland's Warbler and Blue Grosbeak there over the years...

Then start walking /birding your way north. Obviously if there is a strong west wind, bird the east side or concentrate on the west side on an east wind.

Many of the trees in this area are quite small, so birds can sometimes be seen quite low.

On your way north, check out the Sparrow Field area. It has be rehabilitated this year and should return to being a very good area for open country / edge birds as it used to be.

Continue walking north through Post Woods and you will eventually bird your way back to the Visitors Centre. Check in there to see what rarities have been reported, and which areas are particularly busy -and check them out -you should have plenty of time left.

So, essentially, don't worry too much about the crowds but if they are really bothering you areas in the north of the Park are usually less busy.

Let me know if you are interested in any particular species of habitats and I might be able to help.

cheers

Jerry

Owen Sound, Canada
Level Contributor
628 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Point Pelee NP birding?

To clarify -when you arrive at the Tip tram stop, walk SOUTH as far as you can on the trails, check that out, then start working your way north...hope that makes sense now.

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,139 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Point Pelee NP birding?

THANKS Geographic so much for your detailed information! I'm really glad we spent a long weekend hiking the park and touring the area last November since the places you're describing are now familiar to me.

On this first trip we aren't really focused on trying to see any specific species, just wanting to learn about birding in the area. Next year we'll be more targeted (and hopefully coming earlier and staying longer!). I sure would love to stay for the warbler ID talk happening on 5/20 since those are such a challenge for me, but we have to get back across the border in time for daughter arriving back to school from her school's spring camping.

A couple questions:

1) I'm seeing some hikes offered by the Friends of PP. There's a 1:30 pm hike at the north end and a 8:30 am that starts at the visitor center, meant to go south it seems. It looks like the 1:30 might be where there is some active birding for the afternoon, but I'm skeptical of a 8:30 start for the morning--seems too late to catch the start of the day. My question is whether either of these hikes might be good for people new to the area? Maybe we'll have worked our way back to the Visitor Center by 8:30 after an early start?

2) I know it'll be fairly crowded. Will we want to have bikes for mobility in the park or will we be fine parking, walking and taking the tram?

Thanks much!

Owen Sound, Canada
Level Contributor
628 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Point Pelee NP birding?

I think you should be fine without the bikes. This will mean repositioning yourselves a couple of times during the day by car but I don't see that as a major problem.

Regarding which hikes to take...that is a tough one. Either area could be good or slow at the times scheduled. Depending on your identification skills they could be good if you have a hike leader who takes the time to point out the field marks, and they can help show some of the better birding locations, although the Park is quite compact and there really are no 'secret locations'... Sorry if this really isn't answering your question.

There is a very good birding guide book to the Pelee region for sale in the visitor centre gift shop. I suggest you check it out when you are at the Park.

The Pelee area is also good in Autumn and much less crowded. A fun visit in late Sept /early Oct is to combine a trip to Pelee with some time at Holiday Beach Conservation Area, which is also on the Lake Erie shore, closer to Windsor. Holiday Beach is renowned for its autumn raptor flights as well as general birding, and Pelee can have plenty of birds at that time as well.

Next year definitely consider visiting Pelee a bit earlier in May and also consider other locations such as Rondeau Provincial Park which has very good spring birding in a beautiful Carolinian forest.

Please let me know if you have any other questions before your current trip or in the future.

cheers

Jerry

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,139 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Point Pelee NP birding?

Jerry--thanks so much for all you've written! It is very helpful!

I think we're going to sign up for the 1:30 hike because it fits our timing, but skip the 8:30 next morning since I have no idea where we'll be in our trek south to north that morning.

We would like to do a fall trip as well so thanks for that information.

Best,

Debbie

Ann Arbor, MI
Destination Expert
for Michigan, Ann Arbor
Level Contributor
2,139 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Point Pelee NP birding?

Hi Jerry,

I just wanted to thank you for your advice on the Pelee trip. We were there May 19/20 and followed your guidance. We had a great time. The crowds were far smaller than I'd envisioned which was so nice.

We arrived mid-morning and were advised that Tilden Woods was the hotspot for the day so we did one loop through there, then decided to sign on for the 1:00 hike to get some help IDing warblers. After that we explored the Woodland Trail and then got in our car to head north to other locations in the park. We crashed out that night, exhausted after listening to the Great Horned Owls after dark at DeLaurier (sp?).

We were back for the 6 am shuttle to the tip, which was largely a bust due to heavy fog, but it was really cool to be out there. We saw confused birds flying overhead--one way then back--trying to find land. There is a yellow legged gull creating quite a stir with the professional birders--seems he/she is likely a European bird, only seen 4 time in North America. I'm not strong on my sea birds so it just looked like all the other gulls to me (sacrilige I know!). Tilden was again the hotspot so we did a couple loops through there before having to leave for home. We ran out of time to go out to Hillman Marsh which I really wanted to do.

We were only in the Pelee area for 25 hours, 6 were spent sleeping/having meals, but we managed to see 79 species of birds! We are definitely hooked. We hope to be back a couple times next spring since we could see in the bird logs how the species change over time. And I really want to go to Pelee Wings to learn about and choose some new binoculars. No time this trip, but that is an amazing store with great information about birding optics!

Thanks again for your help with planning our time in the park. It was spot on and let us use our limited visit most effectively.

Debbie

Reply to: Point Pelee NP birding?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Leamington
More Leamington Topics