Point Pelee & Algonquin Park

12 Days from
$3,395 CAD | $2,795 USD
Land Tour


  • The songbird migration spectacle at Point Pelee
  • The Boreal Forest specialties of Algonquin Park
  • Lots of mammals, from Otters to Moose
  • Relatively easy and productive birding in scenically impressive and diverse areas


Tour Overview

Join us for an exciting birding tour of Point Pelee and other spring migration hotspots of southern Ontario, finishing with several days in Algonquin Provincial Park.

On this exciting tour of beautiful Ontario, we rendezvous with the myriad of neotropical and other migrants whose arrival coincides with our own. At Lake Erie’s “Big 3” migration hotspots—Point Pelee, Rondeau and Long Point—we search for species such as Red-headed Woodpecker, White-eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Kentucky, Hooded and Prothonotary Warblers while sifting through throngs of beautiful Indigo Buntings, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and dozens of warbler species! No place is better for rarities and anything can show up, with each day bringing in a different suite of birds. Carolinian forest woodlots near Rondeau and Long Point are home to breeders such as Tufted Titmouse, Louisiana Waterthrush and Cerulean Warbler. Further north, the Carden Alvar supports Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Golden-winged Warbler and Loggerhead Shrike. Finally, spectacular Algonquin Park awaits, where we’ll look for Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker and other northern specialties while keeping an eye out for moose, otter and maybe even wolf!


Day 1: Arrival, Toronto

Our Point Pelee & Algonquin Park birding tour begins with arrival in Toronto and an introductory dinner. Night in Toronto.

Any morning could bring a “fallout” of migrants and we won’t miss our first opportunity. We’ll start off today near our hotel in Toronto at a local nature reserve jutting out into Lake Ontario. Beginning on a pleasant footpath, we’ll get our first looks at migrant warblers – perhaps a lovely tiger-striped Cape May or the retina-burning Blackburnian. We’ll scan Lake Ontario for Long-tailed Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers en route to their arctic breeding grounds. Common and Caspian Terns whirl in front of Toronto’s skyline while Red-necked Grebes attend to their nests in the bay. After this, we’ll pack up for a drive to Pelee.

En route, we’ll break up the trip with a birding break at one of the great wonders of the world – Niagara Falls. Here we will take a short walk to see the American and Canadian falls, through a nice city park where our first southern specialties will be tame and used to people – Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and the stunning Wood Duck. We’ll make a note to search for two of the newest additions to the list of regularly occurring Canadian avifauna – Fish Crow and Black Vulture, which are now permanent residents in this area. Night at Pelee.

Point Pelee is a renowned destination hosting birders from around the world who want to witness spring's intense migration spectacle. We'll arrive at the prime time, coinciding with the birding festival—expect kiosks, pancake breakfasts and a birding vibe. For photographers, the leaf-out arrives later here, so the birds will be visible in the budding treetops and bushes.

A light, warm breeze from the south is the first indication that migrants are on the way. On these days we can expect new arrivals in the hundreds, but if this warm air meets a sudden cold front during the night, the resulting conditions can force thousands of passerines to descend upon the diminutive Point Pelee during their nocturnal procession. The famed “reverse migration” can occur at the tip, where an endless procession of birds fly back south over the lake, often to return and land in trees just above our heads. Everything from Wood Stork to Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has been seen this way, and this is what excites many birders into a twitching frenzy. On an average day in mid-May, there are dozens of warblers, thrushes, vireos, sparrows, hawks, owls and others to enjoy at close range, and if you know where to go it can be done without the crowds. Just imagine seeing a Kirtland’s Warbler during the few hours it rests en route to its miniscule breeding grounds to the north – a nearly annual occurrence at Pelee! We usually start at the tip in the mornings and work our way through the park, visiting surrounding fields and wetlands such as Hillman Marsh in the afternoon for a diversity of migrant shorebirds and waterfowl. In the evening we return to see birds stacked up in the forests at the north end of the park, or we might go out looking for a rare bird that’s been reported. Anything can turn up at Pelee - and usually does. In fact, finding rarities is one of the joys of birding here. Species that do not breed in Canada such as Summer Tanager, Kentucky and Worm-eating Warblers are not too difficult to encounter. Other species such as Kirtland’s Warbler, Swallow-tailed Kite, Henslow’s Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Mottled Duck and many others have been seen by us over the years.

Point Pelee is indeed a birder’s dream come true, and 100 species in a day is regular on our tour. One should expect twenty-to-thirty species of warblers, all potentially foraging at eye-level in their neotropical breeding attire! There is also variety; you may see birds like Little Gull, Eastern Screech-Owl, Cerulean Warbler, Bald Eagle, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, White-rumped Sandpiper, Orchard Oriole, and American Golden-Plover all on the same day! Nights in Leamington except last night in Ridgetown.

Considered by many to be as fantastic a birding location as the famous Point Pelee, Rondeau is a beautiful Carolinian forest that offers a very pleasant birding experience. We walk some of the trails in the Park, looking for resident Red-headed Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, White-breasted Nuthatch, Baltimore Oriole and the prize bird of the park, the Prothonotary Warbler. Sometimes this “Jewel of the Swamp” allows for arms-length looks at the boardwalk! Early on we’ll sort through the flocks of returning migrants on footpaths that lead past ephemeral sloughs that act as bird magnets. We’ll hope for more “spring overshoots” including Yellow-throated Warbler, Blue Grosbeak and maybe even a Chuck-will’s-widow! The visitor’s centre has a great feeder set-up and nearby picnic areas offer ideal lunch spots and even white-sand beaches. Not far away, the Blenheim sewage lagoons (the best in southern Ontario) are a hotspot where more migrant shorebirds and six species of swallows can be found. Continuing our journey east, we press onward to the Long Point area where we spend our next two nights. Night in Simcoe.

One of the "Big Three" migration hotspots of the northern shore of Lake Erie, Long Point is home to North America's oldest bird observatory, LPBO. We have many options in the area but the focus is on the assortment of large woodlots that harbour breeding specialties such as Hooded, Cerulean, Pine and Blue-winged Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireo and Acadian Flycatcher. In some years Louisiana Waterthrush may be nesting. The Bird Studies Canada headquarters is an excellent place for lunch and to scope out ducks over Long Point’s inner bay.

If conditions are good, we visit the “Old Cut” field station one morning to see what migrants have arrived overnight. Usually with the help of LPBO’s volunteers we manage to see some exciting birds up close. We’ll visit the huge Big Creek Marsh, where Least Bittern and King Rail are real possibilities, amongst an assortment of marsh birds. After our second morning of birding we’ll pack up and head north. Night in Orillia.

We’ve made our way further north to the forests and fields where many of those migrants we saw earlier come to nest. This morning we arrive at Carden Alvar, which is an open area of thin soils on limestone bedrock with poor agricultural potential that has just recently been turned into a provincial park. This so-called alvar supports an abundance of birds like Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Bluebird, Golden-winged Warbler, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Grasshopper, Vesper, Field, and Savannah Sparrows, as well as Eastern Kingbird, and Loggerhead Shrike. The shrike is the Carden Alvar's most famous inhabitant, as there are only a handful of sites in northeastern North America that support this endangered subspecies.

Wetlands hold American and Least Bittern, Marsh and Sedge Wren, Sora and Virginia Rail, Osprey and Northern Harrier. This gorgeous area is in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city only an hour and a half to the south. Following Carden, we continue on our way to the Algonquin area to spend the rest of our day in this dramatic last stop of our tour. Night in Dwight.

Algonquin Park is one of Canada's premier wildlife viewing sites. The rugged topography of its highlands leads to vast broad-leafed forests more typical of southern areas. Cold, mossy bogs and coniferous forests found throughout most of Canada's north are equally prevalent. This mix of habitats creates a fantastic diversity of birds and other wildlife. Expected birds include 15+ species of wood warblers, Hermit Thrush (one of North America's best singers), Canada Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrow, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch and many more. We’ll have a close-up look at American Woodcock displaying over open areas. In addition, we’ll keep an eye out for boreal species such as Common Loon, Spruce Grouse, Canada Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee and the wanderers of the north, Red and White-winged Crossbills. We will take an evening excursion to an area where Great Gray Owl has bred for the past several years to try and see this ghost of the north. The extensive hardwood forests of the park are good habitat for residents like the Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, and Ruffed Grouse. Of course we are always on the lookout for the many species of mammals commonly found in the park such as Marten, Black Bear, Red Fox, Eastern Wolf and River Otter. We should encounter Algonquin's largest inhabitant on a daily basis: Moose. At this time of the year, Algonquin is truly an amazing place to explore. Nights in Dwight except the last evening we return to Toronto, 2.5hrs south.

Our Point Pelee & Algonquin Park birding tour concludes today in Toronto. You can leave for flights home anytime today.


What's Included

Tour Includes

  • All accommodation (Lakeside cottages; modern motel accommodation)
  • Ground transportation (15-passenger vans)
  • Includes all breakfasts and lunches
  • 4 - 8 participants with one guide, 9 - 12 participants with two guides
  • All park, conservation, entrance fees
  • Gratuities

Tour Does Not Include

  • Flights to and from Toronto
  • Evening meals
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature

What to Expect

Our daily travel schedule will vary to account for weather, bird species and habitat during our Point Pelee & Algonquin Park birding tour. You can expect some early morning, before-breakfast walks as we search out migrating passerines, as well as late evening viewing, including one or two owling expeditions for those interested. Our tour involves generally easy walking and some hill climbing, sometimes for periods up to 4 hours. During these walks we stop frequently. We follow woodland trails and venture forth into low brush and occasional swampy and uneven terrain. When we have two leaders, we sometimes split into “faster” and “slower” groups.

Around noon time we stop for a sit-down meal at a restaurant or to have a picnic lunch. If it is hot, as it can be in southern Ontario, we may rest for an hour or so during the middle to late afternoon. In the evening, we usually arrange to go to a local restaurant. During this time we discuss the day’s activities and review the list of birds seen and heard, and plan for the next day.

Spring weather in southern Ontario can be extremely variable and you should be prepared for anything from cold rain to muggy heat, however, the snow will have gone by then. While Ontario is widely known to be infested with mosquitoes and other biting insects in late spring and summer, feel secure in the fact that our trip will occur before the insect season begins. For the most part, May is very comfortable and a lovely time to visit the province.

Featured Wildlife

Even though we cannot guarantee a sighting of the animals below, we feel quite confident that an encounter with the ones listed below is quite likely.

  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Black-backed Woodpecker
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Upland Sandpiper
  • Little Gull
  • American Woodcock

Tour Reviews