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Pine Warblerithout question, Point Pelee is the most popular Canadian birding hotspot, and this small national park rivals any single American birding locale. Some days during spring and fall, the entire national park seems to be in motion with birds and birders working their way across the peninsula that funnels migrating birds to this central point on the north end of Lake Erie. Only about 40 miles from Detroit, Michigan, the attraction of Point Pelee is a 12-mile-long, V-shaped peninsula that birds follow before and after crossing the lake during migration.

Point Pelee offers great opportunities to see an abundance and variety of migrating songbirds, waterfowl, gulls, terns, raptors, shorebirds and waterbirds. March and April bring exciting numbers of migrating waterfowl, including Tundra Swans, geese and ducks, to the park. During April, all species begin to migrate through in good numbers, but spring migration does not peak until mid-May, when the numbers and diversity of warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers and other passerines is greatest. It seems that during the middle of May, you can find any bird that ranges east of the Rocky Mountains. More than 42 species of warblers have been sighted at Point Pelee, but be ready for the crowds of birders who come to search them out during this exciting time of the year.

Fall migration may be even more spectacular at Point Pelee. Beginning the last two weeks of August and the first week of September, the southern part of the park literally teems with warblers, vireos, flycatchers and other passerine groups. By mid-September, birds of prey tend to dominate the airways, and as a result, most passerines become more secretive. Blue Jays are an obvious exception and may fill the sky by the thousands. October and November migrations are fueled by cold fronts that trigger migrations of vultures, raptors, waterfowl, gulls, owls, chickadees, sparrows and finches. Significant migrations of waterfowl and gulls continue until freeze-up in December, and eagles are most often seen from late October to early December.

Point Pelee
The Peninsular effect of Point Pelee on migrating birds, especially songbirds like Pine Warblers, makes this the best birding location in Canada.

Known best for fall migrations of birds of prey, Holiday Beach is only 25 miles west of Point Pelee and offers birders another rich location to search for migrating birds. About 100,000 birds of prey are tallied at Holiday Beach each fall, but 650,000 other birds are also counted, lending credence to the fact that raptors aren't the only birds funneling through. The big attraction is the Hawk Tower, where 154,000 Blue Jays were counted migrating in one day!

Both Point Pelee and Holiday Beach can be easily reached from Detroit, although many more local hotels and restaurants are available. For more information, contact Point Pelee NP (519) 322-2365 and Holiday Beach Conservation Area (519) 736-3772.

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