This website is designed to be useful to both visitors wanting to see specific birds and local residents wishing to learn more about their wonderful natural areas right here at home.
Ottawa is an accessible 'northern' destination for birders in the New England states, where such sought after 'northern' birds as Northern Hawk Owl, Gray Partridge, Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing and both White-winged and Red Crossbills are usually present in winter. Gyrfalcon, Great Gray and Boreal Owls are distinct possibilities in invasion years. It is on a major migration route, the Ottawa River, for birds heading to Hudson's Bay or returning therefrom, making it the best place in southern Ontario for Arctic Tern.
The web-book begins with a brief Seasonal Guide section, basically a short overview describing birding in Ottawa through the year. It lists the most commonly seen area birds by habitat for each season. Brief sections on Local Non-birding Attractions and local Hazards, including weather, insect pests, etc., are included. A section on Useful Tools gives a rundown on local birding books, maps and rare bird alerts. A section on Conventions gives explanations of the standard usage through the text, as well as a distance and temperature conversion chart for our American friends.
The majority of the text is devoted to the Site Guide. Most of the sites are within the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club's checklist area, a 50 kilometre circle centred on the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings. The circle is conveniently divided east-west by the Ottawa River. The southern part, in Ontario, is divided by the Rideau River; and the northern segment, in Quebec, is split by the Gatineau River. This results in four roughly geographically equal segments, The Southwest, The Southeast, The Northeast and The Northwest. Click on one of these to reach a map of loop or linear tours available in that area. Choose one of those and you have a map and listing of the birding sites along that particular route, each with a clickable page of its own. Information on each site along the way provides specific directions to the spot (both independent and route/loop oriented), information on how to bird the area and an idea of what birds might be expected, with special emphasis on the less common or more sought after species, what rarities have occurred in recent years, and directions to the next site in that route or loop.
Back at the top level, a fifth section, Favourite Outlying Sites, includes some popular spots outside the checklist circle which are not included in the previous four sections. There is also a complete and clickable Alphabetical Birding Site Index for locating specific sites quickly. As well, there is a "Best" Sites Tool, allowing the user to bring up a clickable list of top birding spots by time of year, quadrant, habitat or type of bird.
After the Site Guide there is a Where and When to See section listing sought after species and giving suggestions for how to find them. This section includes most species which require special effort to find in the Ottawa area. It also includes some more common species if of special note. It does not include accidentals not likely to recur.
A Bird Names : English - French - Scientific table for Ottawa birds is provided. It is hoped this will enable better communication between anglophone and francophone birders. Appended to this list are two other items of interest to Ottawa listers: a listing of birds seen near the Ottawa area but not within the checklist circle and a list of species that could be expected to occur here given time. These are included for the pleasure of the dreamers among us.
Parts of this site will be outdated fairly quickly as the city grows and more and more natural areas are lost to the concrete and clapboard jungle, or access is modified or denied. If you notice changes in the information, or find errors in the present text, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to make updates as soon as I confirm any new information.
I hope that this effort will serve to help people, especially those living in Ottawa who may be able to influence the situation, understand how lucky we are here to have such beautiful areas in and around Ottawa, and to know just how fragile they really are. I hope this work will stimulate their appreciation of nature. This, in turn, may, hopefully, bring on an interest in saving what's left of it before everything is paved over and covered with ticky-tacky 'progress'.
NOTE: Some of the sites described herein are private property. Their inclusion does not constitute an invitation to visit such property at will. Visitors should obtain permission before venturing onto any site located on private land.
And don't forget to check the Birding Ottawa RBA, which attempts to keep abreast of the latest local rare bird reports and provides links to the appropriate site pages, if available, for further information. To help generate an historical perspective, see also the past RBA's beginning in the year 2001 at Past Years' Rare Bird Alerts.
The Birding Ottawa Winter Specialty Status page attempts to give a rundown of birds of special interest in Ottawa's chilly winters. These birds are often of interest to southern visitors to the city. It too provides links to the appropriate site pages, if available, for further information. And there is also a reference archive, beginning in the winter of 2003 - 2004 of Past Winter Specialty Status Reports. In addition, NeilyWorld has an all observers combined Winter Bird List for the Ottawa checklist circle. Click here to see the current Winter Bird List and here for the reference archive, beginning in the winter of 2005 - 2006 of Past Winter Lists or the Cumulative Ottawa Winter Bird List.
As an additional treat for winter birder's, NeilyWorld is pleased have Ron Pittaway's permission to present his informative, educational and always interesting Winter Finch Forecast. He gathers information regarding conditions in the northern boreal forests and syntheses this to forecast the occurrence of these birds in southern Ontario. Here too, there is a reference archive, beginning in the winter of 1999 - 2000 of Pittaway's Past Winter Finch Forecasts.
Another new addition, just for fun, is the Birding Ottawa Ottawa Lister' Pages, which allow you to compare your Ottawa and/or Outaouais lists to other birders in the area.
New and specifically for those doing Big Years in Ottawa is the Birding Ottawa Ottawa Big Year section, which provides information, suggestions and tools for planning and carrying out a Big Year in the Ottawa Checklist Circle.
Canada wide listers can access information about an old tradition here in the great white north, the Canadian Listers' Corner. This venue allows you to compare all your Canadian lists and some beyond to other birders.
Last but not least, check the Birding Ottawa Eco-News page, which tries to post items related to local environmental issues, especially related to birds and habitat destruction.
Return to Birding Ottawa Table of Contents.