6. Point Pelee National Park, Ontario
A narrow six-mile-long triangle jutting into Lake Erie, Point Pelee National Park is a unique setting for plant and animal life and one of Canada’s most visited parks. Designated a globally important bird area, Point Pelee’s natural features include freshwater marshes, deciduous forests, sandy beaches, and cedar savanna.
Birds migrating along the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways cross paths at Point Pelee, where they seek refuge after the long trip across the Great Lake. On very active spring days here, birders have recorded nearly 200 species. One-day peaks for songbirds include 5,000 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 3,000 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 1,400 Baltimore Orioles, and 620 Nashville Warblers. Readers agree the park is a must-see. It’s the place that hooked Colleen McLean of East Lansing, Michigan, on birding. And it’s a spot that Sam Febba of Dimondale, Michigan, returns to often. “Point Pelee remains our favorite place to bird,” Febba says. “It seems to have an ambience found in very few places. Our group camps in the group campground and wakes to the sounds of birds. Some days the variety is fantastic. Some days we see very few species, but I’ve never had a bad day of birding at Point Pelee. There’s also something to be said for the crowds. Where else do birders outnumber non-birders 100 to 1?”
Location: On a peninsula projecting into Lake Erie, 30 miles southeast of Windsor, Ontario • Best time to visit: May for songbirds and shorebirds, throughout the fall for hawk migration • Birds: 36 warbler species occur annually• Contact: Point Pelee National Park: (519) 322-2365; Friends of Point Pelee: (519) 326-6173