A prairie just north of Winnipeg where hundreds of thousands of southbound waterfowl stop over in fall.
By Jacques Bourgeois | Published: 6/21/2013
Known for its beautiful location and abundant wildlife, Oak Hammock Marsh is home to 300 bird species, 25 mammal species, and numerous amphibians, reptiles, and fish. During fall migration, the number of waterfowl using the marsh can exceed 400,000 daily.
I have many favorite areas for watching wildlife. At sunrise, with the sun at my back, the east observation mound offers a great view of the marsh. The remoteness of the north mound is impressive, and the raised boardwalk leading to the main mound tours a variety of habitats and species within a short walking distance.
In summer, I enjoy canoeing the marsh because I never know what I’ll find. Once, as I paddled around a bend, I came across a flock of American White Pelicans. The noise that the large birds made while taking off was deafening. The best way to experience the marsh, in my opinion, is to be on the rooftop of the Interpretive Centre when tens of thousands of waterfowl return to the marsh at dusk, after feeding in the surrounding fields all day. It’s a spectacle you won’t soon forget. — Jacques Bourgeois
Jacques Bourgeois is the promotions and marketing coordinator at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre and an avid birdwatcher.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Restored prairie marsh, aspen-oak bluff, artesian springs, tall-grass prairie.
Flat. 19 miles (30 km) of hiking trails; some are wheelchair-accessible. Several drive-up observation points.
300 species. Dunlin, Upland, Pectoral, and Stilt Sandpipers and 25 other shorebird species during migration. About 30 waterfowl species. Least Bittern, Yellow Rail, Sora, Tree, Barn, and Bank Swallows, Sedge and Marsh Wrens, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Le Conte’s, Clay-colored, Savannah, Nelson’s, Song, and Swamp Sparrows, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Bald Eagle, Snowy and Short-eared Owls, Common Raven, Bobolink.
When to go
Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre offers group tours, guided birding walks, canoe excursions, snowshoe walks, bird-banding program (May to October), a cafe, restrooms, theater, and gift shop.
Provincial wildlife management area and nonprofit conservation center. No fees to access birding areas. Admission to Interpretive Centre: $6 adults, $4 children ages 3-17, $5 seniors ages 55 and up, $20 family (two adults and their children). Parking free. Interpretive Centre open 10-8 in September and October and 10-4:30 from November to August, closed January 1, November 11, and December 24-25.
Bring a spotting scope and dress for windy and chilly weather. If you are here after dark, insect repellent strongly recommended. Pick up a trail map at the Interpretive Centre.
For more info
Oak Hammock Marsh, (204) 467-3300.
55 Pavilion Crescent, Winnipeg. Great for warblers during migration.
Red River Rd. and Lockport
Provincial Rd. 238 and Hwy. 44. Waterbirds along river, American White Pelican below dam at Lockport.
Birds Hill Provincial Park
15 miles (24 km) north of Winnipeg on Hwy. 59. A mix of coniferous and deciduous woods attracts a variety of species.