Birding at Cape Jourimain

Willet (photo: John Chardine)

Willet (photo: John Chardine)

The distinct habitats of Cape Jourimain provide for a broad diversity of birds and plants. Some 200 bird species have been identified in the Wildlife Area either as migrants or nesting species.

Black-bellied Plover (photo: John Chardine)

Black-bellied Plover (photo: John Chardine)

Explore the trails that lead through these different habitats or arrange for one of our park interpreters to help guide you through.

Osprey — photo by Colin MacKinnon

Osprey (photo: Colin MacKinnon)

Distinct habitats to explore

The warm waters of the Northumberland Strait dominate the landscape of Cape Jourimain. The shallow, productive waters and shorelines provide important, migratory, feeding and roosting habitat for many bird species including shorebirds, sea-ducks, gulls, and cormorants.

Least Sandpiper (photo: John Chardine)

Least Sandpiper (photo: John Chardine)

Saltmarshes are one of the world’s most productive habitats and are of great ecological value. The saltmarshes on the south-east side of the Wildlife Area provide breeding habitat for Black Ducks, Willets, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows, and Northern Harriers.

Cliff Swallows

Cliff Swallows. Adult Cliff Swallows have a white forehead and buffy rump, features lacking in the blackish juveniles. Preferred habitat is open country in the vicinity of water. They arrive in early May, leave in early September, and nest in large colonies on bridges and under the eaves of our lighthouse.

On the north-west side of the wildlife area, the causeway (constructed in the 1960s) changed the upper saltmarshes into brackish ponds by restricting the influence of the tides. These ponds now host hundreds of waterfowl and shorebirds during the spring and fall migration. The ponds are protected on the north-west by a high coastal dune. Here, amongst the tall grasses and thickets, Savannah and Song Sparrows are easily viewed. The Gunning Point Trail will take you to look-outs over both the eastern pond and the dune.

Red Knot (photo: John Chardine)

Red Knot (photo: John Chardine)

Artificial impoundments and beaver dams across small streams have created areas of freshwater marsh. Bitterns, rails and kingfishers may be seen or heard here. During migration, Yellowlegs and other shorebirds may also be observed.

Yellow Warbler (photo: Robert Lyon)

Yellow Warbler (photo: Robert Lyon)

The drier uplands of the Wildlife Area are covered by a mosaic of old fields and woodlands. Common Yellowthroats and Song Sparrows abound in the shrubby growth of the old fields while Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Redstarts, Swainson’s thrushes, and many other species inhabit the woods.

A birder’s calendar

At Cape Jourimain, enjoying the birds can be a year-’round adventure.

  • March–April: witness the migration of thousands of seabirds such as scoters, eiders and gannets.
  • May: enjoy the beautiful colours and sounds of the songbird migration including 22 species of wood warblers.
  • June–July: with 86 species of nesting birds, there is much to see during the breeding season. Characteristic nesting species include: Osprey, Common Yellowthroat, Willet and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
  • August–September: a wide diversity of shorebirds may be observed on migration. Semipalmated Plovers and Short-billed Dowitchers are among the most numerous species. Peregrine Falcons that prey on the shorebirds follow the flocks to Cape Jourimain.
  • September–October: test your identifying skills on the migrating fall warblers and other songbirds.
  • November–February: Though conditions can be difficult, hardy species such as chickadees, kinglets, and Bohemian Waxwings can be observed through the winter. Cape Jourimain is also one of the few places in the surrounding area where one can reliably find Yellow-rumped Warblers through the winter. This is thanks to the abundant Bayberry or Myrtle shrubs along the shore that provide a preferred winter food source for this species which is also known as Myrtle Warbler. Be sure to take the time to scan the marshes and open areas for an occasional Short-eared or Snowy Owl.
Willet (photo: John Chardine)

Willet (photo: John Chardine)