Bird watching is a popular and fun activity. It is full of excitement and surprises and can be very rewarding. We are fortunate in the SDG to live in the migratory paths of a number of bird species. Of course, we have the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary which is home to and a migration way point for many species.

The visitor centre parking lot is host to many chickadees, blue jays, tree sparrows and cardinals as well as woodpeckers and the occasional white and red breasted nuthatches and juncos. As long as there is open water in the area of Nairne Island there may be mute or Tundra swans with the smattering of mallards and Common Mergansers or Common Goldeneye. Just west of the Sanctuary we have had a rare visitor from the west in the form of a Harris`s Sparrow which has had a lot of bird watchers put it on their Ontario life lists. The outer limits of S.D. & G have been graced with a rare Northern Hawk Owl and the usual sprinkling of Snowy owls in winter. We have had pairs of bald eagles seen on occasion.

There are many benefits to birding. It is an opportunity to get closer to nature and for social interaction. There are also many benefits both social and health. Some of these are:

Get closer to nature. Not only can you observe birds in their natural habitats, but you can also breathe in the fresh air, soak up the sun's rays, and appreciate all of the things that make being outdoors so great.

Improve Fitness. Many may be shocked to learn that birding can count as a workout. But often, locations that offer the best opportunities for bird watching are located off of the beaten path and require a bit of a hike in order to reach. Getting your blood pumping with a moderately-paced walk is a great way to keep your heart healthy, and by taking part in an activity you enjoy, you won't even notice you're getting in a workout.

Develop patience. The payoff of bird watching isn't always immediate, and usually requires time spent waiting for the much anticipated glimpse of the birds you're seeking. Refining your patience skills isn't only a practice that will improve your mental well-being, but also has physical health benefits.

Improve reflexes. After a lengthy wait, a bird watcher has to be ready at any given second to grab their binoculars or camera to bask in and capture that long-awaited moment. Every birding opportunity gives you the chance to exercise your reflex speed, as well as improve upon it.

Social interaction. Many bird watching trips take place with groups of people, and the act of coming together in this common interest can do wonders in building life-long friendships and fostering a sense of community. There are also many online groups where members can swap birding tips and share their experiences, allowing bird watchers all over the world to connect with one another.

There are a number of clubs in Eastern Ontario should you wish to get seriously involved. However, bird watching can just be an outing at the Sanctuary with your camera or binoculars.

We would love to hear about your observations and see any photos of our feathered friends you have taken. Please send these to

We will post them on our Facebook page. We can also help identify birds as we have a couple of avid birders on our board.