Ottawa has a rich and varied birding community with a long history dating from the middle of the 19th century. Amateurs and professionals — from Percy Taverner and Earl Godfrey  through to today’s feeder caretakers and Safe Wings volunteers — have done everything from founding national institutions to having fun at an Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club members are an integral part of this history.

Before you go…

Please read the Code of Conduct for birders, birdwatchers and photographers.

Where do I go?

Now that you are set to head off, the question is where to go. Ottawa has plenty of varied habitats that make for good birding all year round. You might want to visit all of them or try to discover favourite spots of your own. This will give you a good start Where to go Birding

An easy starting point would be locations where the OFNC maintains feeding stations. A year round feeder is maintained at Fletcher Wildlife Garden .  In the winter a second feeder is added.  Winter feeding stations can be found at Dewberry Trail at Dolman Ridge, Pine Grove on Davidson Road NCC P19, and the  Canadian Museum of Nature on Pink Road (CMN). The CMN feeders are a joint effort of the museum, Le Club des Ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO), and the OFNC.  The derecho damaged or destroyed the Jack Pine locations but the replacement feeder can be found in OFNC Feeder in Stony Swamp at Beaver Trail

In the past, funds to purchase seed for these feeders were raised through an annual Seedathon. This was a “Big Day” event held in the fall when keen OFNC birders would try to find as many species of birds as possible within a 24-hour period. Donations of a lump sum or an amount corresponding to the number of species found were sought. Over time, this was found to be no longer an effective way to raise funds. While the OFNC general budget provides some support, donations for seed purchases are welcome and can be made at Wild Bird Seed Membership and Donations.

What might I see?

Perhaps you want to have an idea of what birds of note are being seen in the area. The OFNC publishes a weekly birding report that you might check regularly. You are also encouraged to report birds that you have seen at sightings[at]

Another source of what birds are being or could be seen can be found on eBird.  eBird is a real-time, online checklist program.  It has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.  When using this tool, please be aware of Reporting Sensitive Species on eBird.

Why not do a year list?

In 1977, a series of articles in Trail & Landscape described a strategy to see 200 bird species within the OFNC study area in a single year.  Although some things described in those articles remain the same, much has changed. The resources available now have revolutionized birding. Also, some once favoured areas no longer exist or are now rarely visited. Other new areas have become important hot spots. Some species have declined, and others are now more common.

Thanks to Greg Zbitnew this is an update/rewrite of that series.  The articles also appeared in Trail and Landscape but are consolidated here to help in achieving the 250 species target.

Trying to see many bird species as possible in a single year in a specific area is quite a popular sport among birders.  Although sometimes it can be a bit of work, it is actually quite a fun project. Aside from motivating you to get outside on a regular basis, it can be quite educational as you make efforts to identify more challenging species and learn about different areas to visit. If you can find a friend or group of friends to go out with, you can turn it into a friendly “competition” and a pleasant social event as well, and it is well known that you try harder if you have to keep up with someone else.

The challenge has been changed from “200” to “250” only to emphasize what is possible for an experienced birder with a lot of time available. The articles are really intended to describe a strategy to MAXIMIZE the number of species you can observe in a year in the most efficient way. The exact total is not as important as is knowing how to do better than you might have thought, without spending more time. This strategy puts you where the birds are and at the right time.

Here are the links to take you to these great articles.  These articles coupled with Where to Go Birding will be some valuable tools out in the field.  Good Birding!

Part 1: January to March

Part 2: April to June

Part 3: July to September

Part 4: October to December

Ottawa checklist

An online seasonal checklist is can be located at Seasonal Checklist 2005.

For field notes a Birder’s Checklist for the Ottawa-Gatineau District compiled by the Bird Records Subcommittee of the Birds Committee, contains a list of all the species of birds that have been found within 50 km of Parliament Hill up to December 1, 2015. There are five columns for however birders choose to record their observations (e.g. daily, yearly, by location), and two pages for additional notes.   A map inside the handy pocket-sized booklet shows the boundaries of the OFNC study area.   Hard copy pocket card versions (3.75″ x 7.75″ 16 panels) of the checklist are listed for sale  (see ordering information and mailing costs)

Historical checklists are also available.

Reference documents of interest

Two  documents have been provided for information and reference concerning birds in the 50 K circle of the Ottawa-Gatineau district.  The documents were prepared by Dave Britton on his own initiative having drawn upon a number of data sources.  He has graciously agreed to share his work with the OFNC.  The information has not been officially reviewed and the OFNC does not take responsibility for the accuracy, content, completeness, or reliability of the information contained in these documents. Nonetheless, the Birds Committee is of the opinion that the documents contain information that would be of interest to both novice birders and those who have birded for a number of years.

Thanks to Greg Zbitnew, these documents will continually updated so the information is as current as possible.

The  Ottawa Annotated Checklist of all Birds in the Ottawa-Gatineau District 2021 provides information up to December 31, 2021.  It covers information relating to all species counts, names, status, text or annotations describing the sightings and includes noteworthy records such as first record, late and early records, unusual summer or winter records and noteworthy high counts.

Rare Bird Detailed Records covering the OFNC Study area ( 50 Km radius of the Peace Tower, Ottawa) last updated on December 31,2021 is available at Rare Bird Detailed Records in the OFNC Study Area.  Since there is widespread use of eBird and the near certainty that any rarity is documented there, updates have relied almost exclusively on the eBird database.

Comments and suggestions on these documents are welcome.  They may be submitted to ofnc.wtgb[at]

I saw a bird.  What was it?

You can get help identifying birds you’ve seen by contacting identifications[at] 

Bird Records Subcommittee

The general purpose of the Bird Records Subcommittee (BRSC) is to provide a pool of technical expertise for OFNC members. The BRSC maintains a database that documents rare bird occurrences and serves as an educational resource for the club. Meetings are open to all members of the OFNC.

Any documentation of an unusual sighting is retained permanently in the subcommittee files. The subcommittee meets two or three times a year to review these submissions, which are in turn used to produce our checklists.

An example of historic documentation maintained by the BRSC is the Shrike Database that contains 103,466 bird sightings submitted by club members January 1, 1981 through May 31, 1986.


Bird Study Group

The Birds Committee organizes talks and workshops on topics of interest to birders. Sometimes we cover bird identification matters, other times bird biology or bird-related projects. The sessions do not follow a set schedule, but take place whenever we get one organized. Most have taken the form of indoor, evening talks led by local people with a particular expertise; they are normally held at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on a week night. The group has also held several successful “Talk & Walks” on seasonally appropriate subjects (e.g., fall waterfowl) on weekend mornings.

Any club member with an interest in birds might find a bird study group session to be of interest. There is no cost to attend, and really nothing to join. Anyone interested in receiving notice of upcoming bird study group sessions should send a note saying so, together with their email address, to the  Bird Study Group at birdstudy[at] We will add you to the e-mail notification list.

People who are not OFNC members are welcome to attend, but we encourage them to become members.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Photograph of birders pointing to a bird during a CBC The Birds Committee organizes the Ottawa contribution to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

This North-America wide birding tradition started in 1900 and the OFNC has participated continuously since 1920. In recent years the OFNC partnered with the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais in this effort. The Ottawa-Gatineau Count usually takes place in mid-December and involves teams of volunteers who spend most of the day outdoors tallying species and numbers of birds within a 7.5 mile (12 km) radius of the Peace Tower. Other volunteers contribute by noting the birds that come to their backyard feeders on the day of the count.

There are a number of nearby counts that touch on the OFNC 50 km. study area.

New – Christmas Bird Counts in and Around Ottawa 2022

Christmas Bird Count season is approaching.!! The Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count will be held December 18, 2022.  For counts nearby check out the calendar – Christmas Bird Count Calendar 2022-23

For other nearby counts on the Quebec side, please visit Bird Counts and Contacts of the COO


Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count 2022

The 104th Ottawa-Gatineau CBC was held December 18, 2022. Temperatures ranged from minus 7.5 to minus 1.5 degrees Celsius, with variable skies throughout the day.

153 field observers plus 28 feeder watchers found 77 species and a record high 50,851 individual birds. Highlights included 3 Northern Shovelers (only the fifth record), a Harlequin Duck, 2 Horned Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe, the sixth record for American Coot, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

A record high was set for Cooper’s Hawk (19). Record highs were tied for Merlin (7), Green-winged Teal (2), as well as for Northern Shoveler (3) Horned Grebe (2), American Coot (1), and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (3), Red-tailed Hawk (20) fell one short of a record high; on the other hand,  Rough-legged Hawk was completely absent; many of the Red-tails were in urban settings.

A record high was also established for American Crow (the most abundant species on the count) with a roost estimated at 30,000. Thanks to Aaron Hywarren, Jamie Spence, and Marcel Gahbauer for their efforts counting crows.

Numbers for lingering diving ducks (both scaup, Hooded Merganser) and gulls were above average due to the weather conditions leading up to the count; however, the numbers were down for our resident winter diving ducks, Common Goldeneye and Common Merganser.

Numbers for woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatch appeared to be on a down cycle from the record highs that corresponded to the invasion of the Emerald ash borer a few years ago. Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Kinglet numbers were also very low. Most of the winter finches were present but in very low numbers, with the exception of a total of 103 Evening Grosbeaks that was well above the 10-year average of 18.

Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl, and Winter Wren were observed during the count week but not on the count day itself.

The Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count is a joint effort of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club (OFNC) and the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO). My thanks to the participants, the sector leaders, and especially my co-compiler, Daniel Toussaint of the COO.

Bernie Ladouceur

For a detailed report of all the species found during this count, please visit CBC 2022

Results of past Ottawa- Gatineau Christmas Bird Counts can be found at Historical results of Christmas Bird Counts.

100th Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count

The 100th Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count took place on Sunday, December 16, 2018, It is a joint initiative of the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club and the Club des Ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO).  The count includes all areas within a 12.1 km. (7.5 miles) radius of the Peace Town and is divided into six sectors.  Three in Ontario and 3 in Quebec.   It was the 40th Anniversary for COO.  The counting concluded with an informative presentation on the history and highlights of the count over the past 99 years.

145 field observers in 73 parties, plus 33 feeder watchers found 75 species and counted 26, 056 individual birds.  The full report is available at 100th Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count.

At the compilation a number of past or current presidents of the Outaouais club and chairs of the OFNC’s Birds Committee were in attendance.  Imagine how many birds this group of individuals have seen over the years!!

Past or current presidents of the Outaouais club and chairs of the OFNC Bird’s Committee. Photo by Nina Stavlund.

Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas

Announces the launch of Year 3 of the Atlas

Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas Year III Launch Weekend: Ottawa Region Meet and Greet

An informal Meet and Greet for the Ottawa Region of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas from 0830 to 1000 at the Shirleys Bay Boat Launch on Sunday 23 April.

Come find out about the Atlas and meet fellow participants who would be happy to share their experiences as a part of this premier community science activity.

Participation is straight-forward and as easy as simply noting the presence of a bird. Your observations will provide essential information for Canadian researchers, scientists, government officials and conservation professionals that will help guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come.

For more information, visit  or contact the Ottawa Region Atlas Coordinator at

Learn More About It

Information on an Atlas Information Zoom Meeting

With spring upon us, several local species have already started their breeding behaviour.  Migrants are arriving daily and staking out territory before nesting.

Observing and reporting this activity to the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas provides essential information for Canadian researchers, scientists, government officials and conservation professionals that will help guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come.

The Atlas is conducted every 20 years and is five years in duration.  Participation in this once in a generation community science opportunity is straight-forward and as easy as simply noting the presence of a bird.  You can find out more about the Atlas and how to participate by joining a Zoom meeting this Thursday evening at 1930.

For more information on how to participate in the Zoom meeting, contact Aaron Hywarren the Ottawa Region Atlas Coordinator at


Members of the OFNC were active participants in the past atlassing efforts.  For reports on the Ottawa area atlassing see historical Ottawa atlasing reports.

Peregrine Falcon Watch

The OFNC Falcon Watch started in 1997 when Ottawa’s first nest of Peregrine Falcons was discovered on the former Citadel Inn at Lyon and Albert streets. For the next decade, our local falcons succeeded in raising many chicks to adulthood.  The Peregrines have chosen other nesting sites which are safer for the chicks.  The story is important and details can be found at Chronology of the Ottawa Falcon Watch

Need more birding information for Ottawa?

See our list of Birding links. Also Larry Neily, an OFNC member, maintains an extensive website on birding in Ottawa and elsewhere at NeilyWorld.