Birding has exploded in popularity in recent years, with many turning to nature as a source of solace and comfort. Whether you’re a veteran birder or just getting started, here are some great birding resources.
Birds Canada has a great tool to discover birds in your region. Simply mark your location on the map, enter the date and download the report, which includes the names and pictures of all the birds in your area.
Birdwatching © Will Parson
Merlin Bird ID
Suppose you are out birding, and you come across a bird you don’t recognize or hear a call that’s unfamiliar, what do you do? Simply download the free Merlin Bird ID app from the App Store or Google Play.
The app gives you three ways to identify a bird:
Answer a five-question quiz that will give you a list of possible birds based upon your responses.
Upload a picture of the bird. The app will run your photo against those in its database to help you identify your bird.
Upload audio of a bird call recorded on your smartphone to the app.
Regardless of which method you choose, you will be given a list of possible birds that includes the name and a picture of the bird, plus a sample of their bird call and a brief description. You can report that you’ve identified the mystery bird by tapping “This is my bird!”
Blackpoll and American redstart warblers © Bill McDonald
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
If you prefer that a book be your guide to Ontario’s birds, look no further than The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, second edition. This compact guide to 450 species of birds includes more than 4,600 illustrations and 600 maps. It also contains up-to-date information on frequency, nesting, behavior, and more.
Where to go Birding
We’ve got a guide to some of the best birding locations in Ontario.
If you live in a big city, like Toronto, you do not have to travel elsewhere to see a diverse range of birds. Our guide to birding in the big city shows you all the best places to bird in Toronto and the birds that call each location home.
Common nighthawk © Michael Nerrie CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Report Your Sightings
Whether you’re hiking someplace remote in search of a rare bird or cozying up by the window to birdwatch at home, your sightings are invaluable to researchers. Become a community scientist today with these great tools:
Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas
More experienced birders may be interested in the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Atlas-3). Atlas-3 was launched on January 1, 2021 to map the distribution and relative abundance of the approximately 300 species of breeding birds in the province. A volunteer-based effort, the atlas uses a rigorous approach to determine the distributions and populations of bird species breeding in Ontario, and changes over time.
Register if you are interested in participating.
eBird is a free and easy to use way to keep track of the birds you see. You can create checklists of the birds you’ve seen at home or out in nature. Simply enter the date, time, location, and the birds you saw and you’re all set. eBird also has a tool for exploring birds in your area and finding birding hotspots.
Over 100 million birds are reported on eBird each year, and that number continues to grow, with an average annual growth rate of 20 percent. The data collected is used by scientists at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology to track species distribution, numbers, migratory patterns, and more.
Helping Our Feathered Friends
As we’ve seen, participating in bird counts is a fantastic way to help birds, but if you would like to do more, here are some great resources:
Want to learn more about birds? ON Nature magazine is a great place to start. We regularly publish articles on birds and birding. You can subscribe to the print edition or read the electronic version here for free.
Feeling bookish? Our list of the top six books about birds features an array of books on all things bird-related.