A riot of colourful birds at Canada’s Point Pelee


As I wrote in a recent post, Canada’s Point Pelee National Park is a magnet for nature lovers this time of year, mainly because of the mass migration of birds returning from their southern winter homes. Jutting down from the south shore of Lake Erie, the point offers a welcome landfall for birds flying across the lake toward their summer breeding grounds.

While the birds return every spring, each year is a bit different. And this year, with unseasonable weather striking many parts of the world, the migration was a week or so late. Luckily, that meant that on the week I returned to Point Pelee, the migration was at its peak, and the display of bird life was amazing.

Even better, Point Pelee seems to attract some of the most colourful birds the northern hemisphere has to offer, and this year they were there in numbers. In some cases, they were so busy feeding up after their long trip that they didn’t worry too much about the paparazzi taking their picture with those long lenses. As well, this year the park’s flock of wild turkeys was large and in charge, almost hobnobbing with the visitors along the trails.

The result is that I came home with a collection of photos just bursting with colour. So if you love birds, nature, or just colour, I’ll share some of them with you.

A photo of a scarlet tanager at Point Pelee National Park, Canada

Scarlet tanager

A scarlet tanager, photographed at Canada's Point Pelee National Park

Scarlet tanager

An American redstart photographed at Canada's Point Pelee National Park

American redstart

An indigo bunting photographed at Canada's Point Pelee National Park

Indigo bunting

An indigo bunting photographed at Canada's Point Pelee National Park

Indigo bunting

A cape May warbler, photographed at Canada's Point Pelee National Park

Cape May warbler

A yellow warbler, photographed at Canada's Point Pelee National Park

Yellow warbler

A Baltimore oriole

Baltimore oriole

A close-up of a wild turkey

Wild turkey

These are only a few of the colourful birds on display at Point Pelee in the spring. And even when the park’s Festival of Birds is over for the year, the trees are still alive with interesting birds, so it’s well worth getting out with your binoculars. And if you don’t make it this spring, don’t worry — there’s always next year.


About Author

Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.


  1. dennis francz on

    Those pictures are absolutely fantastic. If I hadn’t seen you take them I would have a hard time believing that they are natural. this years photos from pelee are the better of the two years we have gone, by far. With all the rainy weather that we had to endure while out there,Paul, you did a perfect job on those pix.

    • Thanks, Dennis — I have you as my witness that I didn’t buy those off a calendar company. Thanks for doing the driving, too, and for spotting the indigo bunting rooting around in the underbrush.

      Those tanagers were so bright this year that at times it looked like they’d been painted with Day-Glo colours. In fact, think the dull, wet weather actually deepened the colours of the birds. Most amazing thing is that I got good shots even though half the time I couldn’t see the bird I was shooting.
      PJM92 recently posted…A riot of colour at Canada’s Point PeleeMy Profile

      • Roberta Medley on

        Hey Paul, Those pictures may not have come OFF a calendar – but if you put them on one I’d buy it. They are gorgeous!

  2. Roberta Medley on

    Paul, Les and I saw an American Red Start last week at the Cloisters in Manhattan. He was not nearly as close as you got him and we had to spend a bit of time with Peterson’s guide to discover what he was. Even then we were still not sure until I saw your photos. Thanks for bringing us up close and personal to these beautiful little guys!

    • No problem, Roberta. I like to think of American redstarts as miniature orioles. They’re hard to spot sometimes, but a real revelation when you see them. It took me a long time to get decent shots of them, but at Pelee they seem to come down and forage in the low underbrush — good news for photographers like me.
      PJM92 recently posted…A riot of colour at Canada’s Point PeleeMy Profile

    • Thanks, Jo-Anne. Point Pelee has been great both years we’ve gone, but you have to be careful with the timing. Things were late this year, and people who went a week earlier than we did apparently didn’t see much.

    • Thanks, Natan. Nature photography is underappreciated because there’s so much good stuff around, but you and I know it takes a lot of patience. But it’s great fun anyway!

    • Thanks, Katie: That scarlet tanager gave me a rare show, posing for at least 10 minutes as it went about the business of fuelling up after its long migration north. I came away with enough shots for a calendar!

  3. What a marvellous collection of bird photos! We’ve rarely taken successful bird pics – they’re too quick for us :-). We don’t usually expect to see colorful birds here in Canada (only in tropical countries). So it must be lovely to spy the orangey-red “scarlet tanager”. Here in British Columbia, though, we enjoy seeing lots of blue Steller’s Jay.
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