One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals


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 If you asked James Turland when and where he likes to bird, he just might say ‘always and everywhere’. His philosophy is simple, “There are birds in all landscapes one just has to look”. Here, in his own words, are his thoughts on birding:

James and Feathered Friend

James and Feathered Friend

The average person seems to think the best places for birds are remote and pristine, and they can be, but often these places are costly to get to. More realistically birders look for their feathered friends close to home. A birders yard is often an oasis of plants and feeders specially placed to lure birds closer. Birding doesn’t get better than finding a rarity right in your own backyard. Birders have a knack for looking at landscapes and seeing the beauty in the birds. A landfill site is not just a pile of garbage but also a mecca for gulls and other scavenging birds. Sewage lagoons are sanctuaries for shorebirds and waterfowl. Some urban parks are bird magnets and havens. I believe with a little urban planning these places could be enriched and turned into truly scenic wildlife habitats. For now we just have to keep up wind and dream a little.

When visiting Bruce County farmland I try to imagine a pristine prairie. Hidden within this idyllic sea of grass are specialized creatures waiting to be discovered. Because of a lack of perches some grassland birds have evolved to sing while flying and also incorporate aerial displays. Even if blindfolded the babblings of Bobolinks conjure images of fields and meadows. The amazing woo woos of the Snipe as it dips and dives way above its chosen territory is not easily forgot. Yet other songs are cleverly devised to misrepresentation. The Grasshopper Sparrows high-pitched trill could easily be mistaken for a Six Legged Hopper. Birds don’t get much more secretive than the Henslow’s Sparrow. It’s weak chip is usually only heard from the tall grass at night. An Upland Sandpipers presence signifies short grass and that probably means grazers are nearby. Other grassland signature birds we hope to see are Eastern Meadow Lark, Clay-Coloured Sparrow, Northern Harrier and Sedge Wrens.  

When Europeans first contacted North America, Ontario was nearly completely forested except for the occasional beaver meadow. By 1900 only 10% of the forest remained. Pockets of grassland species initially benefited and expanded into the newly created habitat. Most recently as pasture decreases and the land is subjected to more intensive farming practices the grasslands and all its inhabitants are in jeopardy. There are solutions and we all can play a part. Like the movie Field of Dreams tells us, ‘Build It And They Will Come’. 


7 OPENINGS – A4 – 6:30 am – BIRDING MacGREGOR’S SOUTHERN BOUNDARY – James Turland. This road trip explores the forest, wetlands and abandoned farms along the park’s southern boundary. A walk to Ducks Unlimited pond includes visits to the viewing tower and bird blind.

9 OPENINGS – A39 – 7:00 am – BIRDING THE TOWER TRAIL – James Turland. Walk the Tower Trail from the park road to the Ducks Unlimited pond.  Habitat is a mixture of wetlands and hardwood forests.

ONLY 4 OPENINGS – B2 – 7:00 am – BIRDING THE HURON FRINGE NORTH – James Turland. Huron Fringe refers to the sand and gravel lowlands adjacent to Lake Huron.  This driving tour explores the fringe between MacGregor Point and Sauble Falls to the north. (Bring lunch)

ONLY 3 OPENINGS – B21 – 8:00 am – BIRDING MacGREGOR – OLD FIELDS & TRAILS – James Turland.  A morning walk through varied habitats along the Deer Run and Rotary Way trails in the northeast corner of the Park. These are infrequently birded areas.




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