Birding at RBG

Royal Botanical Gardens provides easy access to some of the most diverse birding in Ontario.

Almost any species can be spotted at the right time of the year, and with our nature reserves located at the head of Lake Ontario and sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment there are always birds present. The trail system provides intimate experiences and observation platforms into a variety of habitats including the largest remaining coastal marshes on western Lake Ontario, old growth forests, meadows, exposed escarpment edges, and the garden areas themselves. Annually about 300 species can be observed, most are migrants, with about 100 species found on site in the summer.

You can visit at your leisure or participate in RBG organized programs. Access points include Princess Point, Rock Chapel, Westdale, Cherry Hill Gate, Rock Garden, Laking Garden and the Arboretum. The birding experience can be as relaxing as watching nighthawks and swifts during the evening summer music series in Hendrie Park, or as dramatic as a hike out to the Spencer Creek delta to see 1000s of swallows and blackbirds. Try visiting the Garden areas during spring bloom festivals. Common species include Broadwing Hawks during Rock Garden tulips, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks during Arboretum lilacs, Baltimore Orioles during Laking Garden irises, and Chimney Swifts during Hendrie Park roses.

RBG is dominated by the Cootes Paradise Nature Reserve, a Nationally Important Bird Area at the head of Lake Ontario, and surrounded by the Niagara Escarpment. Its most easily accessible site is Princess Point at the south east corner of the marsh. The most spectacular and isolated location is the Marsh Boardwalk Platform overlooking the Spencer Creek delta. The site is accessed from the Arboretum and is adjacent to the Hopkins Woods and Spencer Creek Special Protection Areas. Concentrations of birds and species at this location are often awe inspiring and are highlighted by the year round resident Bald Eagles.

The Long Watch and Marsh Monitoring Program are two volunteer programs keeping tabs on bird numbers, and numerous conservation projects are underway to maintain and restore habitat. To participate in scientific bird monitoring and conservation projects at RBG contact us.

Resources for Local Birders

blue bird on a branch

Trail Maps

RBG's nature sanctuaries feature more than 27 km of nature trails within 1,100 hectares of nature reserve. Read more

geotrail map overview

Long Watch Project

The Long Watch is a volunteer-run project to accumulate seasonal data on bird populations on natural lands owned by RBG. Read more

planting in the wetlands

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Check out their website for a fantastic guide to birding and species. Read more