Birding at RBG
Royal Botanical Gardens provides easy access to some of the most diverse birding in Ontario.
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 spring ephemerals, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks during Arboretum lilacs, Baltimore Orioles during Laking Garden irises, and Chimney Swifts during Hendrie Park roses.
Birds can be found all throughout RBG’s Nature Sanctuaries, home to 27km of trails, spanning across wetlands, grasslands, and forests. The trails traverse challenging landscapes and as such are classed as wilderness trails, generally 1m wide with most trails containing hill sections with steep grades climbing or descending 15m.
Looking for a guide? Sign up for one of RBG’s organized birding programs at rbg.ca/publicprograms
What Bird Species Can I Find at RBG?
Almost any species can be spotted at the right time of the year, and with our nature sanctuaries 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.
Report your Sightings with iNaturalist
“One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.”
Over 200 Species Observed!
Bird Biodiversity & Conservation
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.
Learn more about birding at Royal Botanical Gardens and beyond with tips, guides, articles, and more!
Bald Eagles at RBG
In 2013, RBG was home to the first eaglets to hatch on the Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario in over 50 years.
Long Watch Project
The Long Watch is a volunteer-run project to accumulate seasonal data on bird populations on natural lands owned by RBG.
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.
Shop Birding Products
Looking for some resources to take with you on the trails? First, stop in at Shop at the Gardens in RBG Centre (680 Plains Rd. W.) and we can help you get started! Choose from a wide selection of books, field guides, pamphlets, and more to help on your next birding excursion!
Visit rbg.ca/shop for hours and more information.
Support Conservation at RBG
These conservation projects are possible thanks to the generous support of RBG Members and donors. With a donation to Growing up Green, you can ensure an active, vibrant and healthy future for the children of today and tomorrow through our horticultural and conservation projects.
Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.
More Ways to Experience the Nature Sanctuaries
RBG’s nature sanctuaries feature more than 27 km of nature trails in Burlington & Hamilton.
See the marsh and its inhabitants from a new perspective as your guide leads you from one shore of Cootes Paradise to Another
Princess Point provides access to a natural skating area across Cootes Paradise.