Welcome to our guide on the diverse bird life in Ottawa and Ontario, Canada. As avid birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, we invite you to embark on an exciting journey to discover the remarkable avian species that inhabit this region. From the vibrant city of Ottawa to the picturesque landscapes of Ontario, you’ll be captivated by the beauty and diversity of birds found in this part of Canada.

Canada Geese

Ottawa Birds

Ottawa boasts a rich and varied bird population, providing a haven for both common and rare species. According to the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club Bird Checklist, the region is home to numerous fascinating birds. Here are just a few noteworthy examples:

  • The majestic Bald Eagle, with its iconic white head and powerful wingspan, can be spotted soaring over Ottawa’s rivers and wetlands.
  • The colourful and melodious Baltimore Oriole graces the city with its vibrant plumage and enchanting song.
  • The diminutive Ruby-throated Hummingbird, known for its rapid wingbeats and iridescent feathers, can be observed during the summer months.
  • The elusive and secretive Virginia Rail, with its distinctive calls, can be found in the marshes and wetlands surrounding Ottawa.

Bird Watching in Ottawa

To fully immerse yourself in the world of birdwatching, Ottawa offers a range of popular locations that are ideal for spotting various avian species. The “Birdwatching Sites in Ottawa” resource provides valuable information about these prime birdwatching spots. Here are a few notable locations to explore:

  • Britannia Conservation Area: Situated along the Ottawa River, this area attracts a diverse array of waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and herons.
  • Mud Lake Conservation Area: Known for its woodland trails and diverse habitats, Mud Lake is a haven for warblers, woodpeckers, and other forest-dwelling birds.
  • Andrew Haydon Park: With its scenic views and open grassy areas, this park is frequented by shorebirds, gulls, and terns.

For successful bird watching in Ottawa, we recommend following these tips:

  1. Carry a good pair of binoculars to observe birds from a distance without causing a disturbance.
  2. Dress in neutral colours to blend in with the surroundings and avoid startling the birds.
  3. Move slowly and quietly, as sudden movements and loud noises can scare away the delicate avian creatures.

Winter Birds in Ontario

Ontario’s winters may be harsh, but they bring with them a unique assortment of bird species that have adapted to survive the cold temperatures. Let’s explore some of the notable winter birds in Ontario:

Snowbirds in Ottawa

During winter, Ottawa becomes a temporary home to several birds seeking refuge from the frigid northern regions. The Snowy Owl, a magnificent white owl with piercing yellow eyes, is a notable visitor to the region. These owls can be observed perched atop fence posts and trees, hunting for small mammals in the open fields.

Winter Finches in Ontario

Ontario’s coniferous forests are frequented by a variety of winter finches, such as the Pine Grosbeak and the Common Redpoll. These colourful birds rely on the abundance of conifer seeds to sustain themselves during the winter months.

Winter Sparrows

Sparrows are a common sight in Ontario throughout the year, but some species become more prominent during winter. The American Tree Sparrow, with its distinct rusty cap and cheerful song, can often be found foraging in snow-covered fields and shrubs.

Winter Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers, such as the majestic Pileated Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker, remain active even in the coldest months. Their strong beaks enable them to excavate tree trunks in search of insects and larvae, providing a vital food source during winter.

Winter Raptors

Ontario’s winter landscape offers excellent opportunities to witness the grace and power of raptors. Species like the Northern Harrier and the Rough-legged Hawk can be seen hovering over fields, hunting for small rodents to sustain themselves during this challenging season.

Grackles and Their Migration Habits

The Common Grackle, known for its iridescent plumage and distinctive call, is a highly adaptable bird. Some grackles migrate south during winter, while others remain in Ontario, taking advantage of available food sources, such as berries and seeds.

Bird Sounds of Northern Ontario

Bird songs and calls add a symphony of sound to Ontario’s natural landscapes. Understanding these vocalizations can enhance your birdwatching experience. Here are some notable bird calls you might encounter:

You-who Bird Call

The call of the Great Horned Owl has a distinctive pattern that sounds like “You-who.” This powerful hooting call resonates through forests, signalling the owl’s presence and territorial boundaries.

Hoo Hoo Hoo Bird Call

The Barred Owl’s call resembles the phrase, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” It’s a haunting sound that echoes through woodlands during the night, adding to the mysterious allure of these nocturnal creatures.

Bird That Sounds Like a Catc

The Gray Catbird has a unique vocalization that mimics the mewing sounds of a cat. This skillful mimicry often surprises unsuspecting listeners, as the source of the sound is not immediately apparent.

Woodpecker Bird Call Sounds

Woodpeckers communicate through a variety of drumming and tapping sounds. The rhythmic pecking on tree trunks serves multiple purposes, including territory defence and attracting mates.

Nuthatch Bird Call Sound

The White-breasted Nuthatch emits a nasal “yank-yank-yank” call that resonates through forests. This distinctive sound often helps birdwatchers locate these agile climbers on tree trunks.

Chickadee Bird Call

The Black-capped Chickadee is known for its cheerful “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” song. This vocalization serves various functions, including establishing territory and communicating alarm calls.

To identify bird sounds effectively, it is helpful to listen to recordings or join local birding groups for hands-on learning experiences.

Raptors in Ottawa

Ottawa is home to an impressive array of raptors, majestic birds of prey that captivate birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Here are some noteworthy species found in the region:

  • The Bald Eagle, with its regal appearance and an impressive wingspan, can be spotted along Ottawa’s rivers, where it hunts for fish.
  • The Red-tailed Hawk, known for its broad wings and piercing scream, soars gracefully above open fields, searching for small mammals.
  • The Cooper’s Hawk, a skillful hunter with excellent maneuverability, is often observed darting through woodlands in pursuit of songbirds.

To optimize your chances of spotting these magnificent raptors, we recommend visiting areas with open landscapes and abundant prey populations.

Bird Migration Patterns

Understanding bird migration patterns adds another layer of fascination to the avian world. Let’s explore the migratory habits of some notable species:

Blue Jays’ Migration Habits

Blue Jays, known for their striking blue plumage, are primarily resident birds in Ontario. However, some individuals may migrate short distances in response to food availability and harsh weather conditions.

Woodpeckers’ Migration Habits

Woodpeckers, such as the Downy Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker, generally remain in Ontario throughout the year. They have adapted to survive winter by foraging for insects in tree bark and seeking sheltered locations.

Sparrows’ Migration Habits

Several sparrow species, such as the White-throated Sparrow and the Dark-eyed Junco, migrate south during the winter months. They seek milder climates and more abundant food sources, returning to Ontario in the spring.

Ottawa and Ontario provide a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts with their rich bird life and diverse habitats. Whether you’re captivated by the beauty of rare species, the melodious songs of songbirds, or the majestic flight of raptors, this region offers endless opportunities for exploration and appreciation. Embrace the wonders of avian life, venture into the wilderness, and allow the enchanting world of birds to ignite your curiosity and love for nature.


Which birds are commonly found in Ottawa?

Ottawa is home to a variety of birds, including Bald Eagles, Baltimore Orioles, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and Virginia Rails, among others.

What are some of the best bird-watching spots in Ottawa?

Notable bird-watching spots in Ottawa include the Britannia Conservation Area, Mud Lake Conservation Area, and Andrew Haydon Park.

Which birds stay in Ontario during the winter?

Several birds, such as Snowy Owls, winter finches, sparrows, woodpeckers, and raptors, remain in Ontario during the winter months.

How can I identify different bird sounds in Ontario?

Listening to recordings and joining local birding groups are great ways to familiarize yourself with bird sounds and improve identification skills.

What raptor species can I see in Ottawa?

Ottawa is home to raptors such as Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and Cooper’s Hawks.

Do Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, and Sparrows migrate from Ontario during winter?

While Blue Jays primarily remain in Ontario, some individuals may migrate short distances. Woodpeckers generally stay in Ontario, while certain sparrow species migrate south during winter.

What resources are available for bird sound identification?

Online resources, birding apps, and field guides provide valuable information and recordings for bird sound identification.

Where can I find samples of specific bird calls?

Online platforms dedicated to bird sounds, such as birding websites and apps, offer samples of specific bird calls for reference and learning purposes.