Red and grey bird

They are the unofficial ambassadors that open and close the season every year on Pelee Island. The unique geographical properties of the Windsor-Essex area act as a funnel for the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds on the move each spring — and equally as remarkable — the fall. This puts Pelee Island on the map making our region one of the most celebrated bird sanctuaries in the world. (1) Bird watching is a mandatory Pelee Island pastime which can be done almost anywhere and provides an inexpensive way to connect with nature.

Oriole in tree

The Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO), located on the south tip of Pelee Island,  is a non-profit charitable organisation devoted to the study and conservation of birds. The observatory conducts intensive migration-monitoring research and breeding bird studies on Pelee Island from April to November. This made them the perfect resource to answer our questions about becoming a birder.

The Basics

Warbler with fanned tail

With so many birds, it is usually best to start with a guide suggests Onishi Sumiko, PIBO’s Field Supervisor/Bander in Charge. “Sibley or Peterson field guide of Eastern North American Birds are well known, but some people prefer a guide with actual photography,” she suggests.

Sibley Guide

Peterson Guide

If you’re in the Windsor-Essex area, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) offers this online guide of local birds.

Black white and red on Pelee Island

Birds can also be identified by their song. Here’s a great article about that from All About the Birds.

You don’t need to go far to watch the birds. Learning to identify them can start through your window or your own backyard. You just need your eyes and ears. “The best time to see and especially to hear birds is definitely early morning,” says Sumiko. 

Warbler on Pelee Island

Attracting Birds

“Right now, I am working on setting different types of bird feeders around the yard, a bit apart from each other, to give a good chance for both big birds and small birds to stop by for a meal, shares Sumiko.”

A few of our favourites include these 10 made from recycled materials.

If you have room, another suggestion is to create a small pond. Birds will always look for a water source. 

Cardinal in tree on Pelee Island

In addition to observing the beautiful plumage of the these feathered friends, the activity allows the watcher to quiet down and become part of the natural scene. Beauty and calm. Seems to us like pretty good reasons to begin hanging out with the birds. 

More About PIBO 

Women at Spring Song Gala hosted by Margaret Atwood at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion on Pelee Island collecting and giving donations to towards the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

PIBO’s field station at Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve is open to the public in the spring and autumn, small groups of school students, naturalist club and all generation are welcome to visit the station for educational purpose. 

“We​ have branched out this year with our education program and have done many new exciting things, but we are coming to the conclusion of that and will be rethinking and revamping our programs in the months to come,” says Suzanne Friemann, PIBO’s Executive Director.

PIBO’s purpose is to collect and disseminate data that will help the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network that is working to understand changes taking place in the populations of migratory birds. 

The 2 Pelee Island Birding Events of the Year Come Together And You Be There

Current times call for creativity so this year, the two premier birding events of Pelee Island will come together.

PIBO hosts the PIBO Gala, a spring event in Windsor. It includes PIBO Board, Member Margaret Atwood , emcee Paul Vasey, a reading from a guest author and charity auction.

The Pelee Island Heritage Centre hosts its major fundraiser of the year, “Spring Song” on Pelee Island. It’s held at the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion every Mother’s Day weekend. This is their 19th year! This event, which includes a birding contest, is also hosted by PIBO Board Member Margaret Atwood. The evening includes emcee Paul Vasey, a reading by a Canadian author and a charity auction. Let’s not forget about some lively singing by “The Rubber Chicken Chorus” too.

Current times call for creativity and collaboration so this year the 2 event’s are coming together and going virtual. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE! You can also follow along and participate in the auction for the week before and after the event.

If you’ve wanted to attend this event in the past but weren’t able to get to Pelee Island, this is your chance! 

All funds raised support PIBO and The Pelee Island Heritage Centre. 

We hope you can join us!


As a tribute to these feathered friends, we offer you our “Bird Series” wines:

Pinot Grigio, Shiraz Cabernet, Merlot

Don’t forget while you’re here to sign up for our Birthday Club and receive a $20 Gift Voucher for your Birthday!

(1) TWEPI – Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island