Visiting the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary

After a few gray, cold and rainy weeks, the sun and the heat finally seem to give us a glimpse of the coming summer. And as today mercury climbed near the 20-degree mark for the first time this year, I took the opportunity to do a spring activity: go bird watching at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, just a few miles west of the village of Ingleside, the bird sanctuary seemed like the perfect place to enjoy this sunny day. I had read before going there that the place had 8 kilometres of nature trails and I was looking forward to hiking them.

Note, however, that the bird sanctuary also has campgrounds, which are not quite at the same place as the hiking trails (I somehow confused the two locations while looking at Google Maps). Campgrounds are located on Morrison Island and are only accessible from May to October. I think I walked almost an hour on the deserted island looking for trails before realizing my mistake. I’m not even sure I was allowed to be there … That said, the place looks great for camping.

St. Lawrence River
Looking for the trails…

Once I realized my mistake, I came back to the home office of the site, near which is the access to the hiking trails. And there, I finally could explore the place at my leisure!


There are four trails in the sanctuary, each highlighting a particular ecosystem: the Cedar Trail and its cedar trees used as habitat for deer; the Maple Trail that passes through an old maple grove; the Red-Winged Trail and its mixed forest; and the Blue Heron Trail that passes through wetlands.

Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
A lovely spring walk in the woods

There are more than 150 different bird species in the sanctuary. Ducks, owls, raptors, woodpeckers, swallows and so on. The Canada geese are the stars of the sanctuary and stop in large numbers during their long migration to the south. Moreover, the sanctuary feeds them in the autumn which is, it seems, an interesting sight to see.

Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Some Canada geese, the stars of the sanctuary

I like birds, but I am far from being an expert in them. I saw some partridges, ducks, red-winged blackbirds and some others that I was not able to identify. I could hear the constant pecking of the woodpeckers and the cackling of the geese. Whether you are passionate about birds or not, the place is charming. The trails are fairly easy to follow and well maintained.

Another interesting aspect: access to the sanctuary is free and accessible in all seasons and at all hours of the day (yes, even at night!).

Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Follow the trail

In short, it’s a nice place to stop for a few hours if you are visiting the area!

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