Birding in the Ottawa area

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Birding in the Ottawa area 2017-09-22T00:49:16+00:00

Ottawa has a rich and varied birding community with a long history dating from the middle of the 19th century. Amateurs and professionals — from Percy Taverner and Earl Godfrey  through to today’s feeder and Safe Wings volunteers — have done everything from founding national institutions to having fun at an Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club members are an integral part of this history.

BEFORE YOU GO read the Code of Conduct for birders, birdwatchers and photographers.

Now that you are set to head off, the question is where to go. Ottawa has plenty of varied habitats that make for good birding all year round. You might want to visit all of them or try to discover favorite spots of your own. This will give you a good start: Where to go birding around Ottawa.

The OFNC’s Birds Committee also manages winter feeding stations at Dewberry Trail on Dolman Ridge, Mer Bleue, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Pine Grove Trail on Davidson Road, Jack Pine Trail on Moodie Drive, and the Canadian Museum of Nature facility on Pink Road. The CMN feeders are a joint effort of the museum, Le Club des Ornithologues de l’Outaouais, and the OFNC.

Perhaps you want to have an idea of what birds of note are being seen in the area. The OFNC publishes a weekly birding report that you might check regularly. You are also encouraged to report birds that you have seen at

The OFNC has published a bird checklist

If you saw a Rare Bird, you are encouraged to submit a rare bird report.

You can get help identifying birds you’ve seen by contacting

Current committee initiatives and resources

Recent bird sightings
Bird Study Group
Peregrine Falcon Watch
Safe Wings Ottawa
Birding Site Guide
Ottawa Checklist
Shrike Database
Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas
Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Mid-Fall Bird Count
Bird Feeders
Bird Records Subcommittee
Can’t find a location?
How rare is the bird that I saw?
Reporting a rare bird
Need more birding information for Ottawa?
Birding links

Bird Study Group

The Birds Committee organizes talks and workshops on topics of interest to birders. Sometimes we cover bird identification matters, other times bird biology or bird-related projects. The sessions do not follow a set schedule, but take place whenever we get one organized. Most have taken the form of indoor, evening talks led by local people with a particular expertise; they are normally held at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on a week night. The group has also held several successful “Talk & Walks” on seasonally appropriate subjects (e.g., fall waterfowl) on weekend mornings.

Any club member with an interest in birds might find a bird study group session to be of interest. There is no cost to attend, and really nothing to join. Anyone interested in receiving notice of upcoming bird study group sessions should send a note saying so, together with their e-mail address, to the Bird Study Group. We will add you to the e-mail notification list.

People who are not OFNC members are welcome to attend, but we encourage them to become members.

 Birding site guide

Check the Birds Committee’s Ottawa Birding Locations. The guide describes prime birding areas in and around Ottawa. It is complete with species to watch for, directions and map coordinates.

Ottawa checklist

A Birder’s Checklist for the Ottawa-Gatineau District is a complete online listing of all birds found within 50 km of the centre of Ottawa along with their seasonal status. Hard copy pocket card versions of the checklist are listed for sale on Publications.

Historical checklists are also available.

Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas

The Birds Committee supported the collection of data for the second Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (OBBA) project, which ended in 2005. Like the first, this atlas focused on mapping the distribution of all breeding species in Ontario, but with more emphasis this time on collecting abundance information. For more information, see Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count

The Birds Committee organizes the Ottawa contribution to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. This North-America wide birding tradition started in 1900 and the OFNC has participated continuously since 1920. In recent years we have partnered with the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais in this effort. The Count usually takes place in mid-December and involves teams of volunteers who spend most of the day outdoors tallying species and numbers of birds within a 7.5 mile (12 km) radius of the Peace Tower. Other volunteers contribute by noting the birds that come to their backyard feeders on the day of the count.

Results of the 2016 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2015 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2014 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2013 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2012 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2011 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2010 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2009 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2008 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2007 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2006 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2005 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2004 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2003 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2002 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2001 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 2000 Christmas Bird Count
Results of the 1999 Christmas Bird Count


This “Big Day” event is held annually in early fall to raise funds for purchasing seeds for the bird feeders maintained by OFNC volunteers (see below). Birds Committee members seek sponsors who donate a fixed amount or offer to pay on a per-species basis. Keen OFNC birders then try to find as many species of birds as possible within a 24-hour period.The record is 134 species set in 2006 by Chris Lewis, Bob Bracken and Bernie Ladouceur.

Results of the 2014 Seedathon
Results of the 2014 Seedathon
Results of the 2013 Seedathon
Results of the 2012 Seedathon
Results of the 2011 Seedathon
Results of the 2010 Seedathon
Results of the 2009 Seedathon
Results of the 2008 Seedathon
Results of the 2007 Seedathon
Results of the 2006 Seedathon
Results of the 2005 Seedathon
Results of the 2004 Seedathon
Results of the 2003 Seedathon
Results of the 2002 Seedathon
Results of the 2001 Seedathon

 Need more birding information for Ottawa?

See our list of Birding Links. Also Larry Neily, an OFNC member, maintains an extensive website on birding in Ottawa and elsewhere at NeilyWorld.