The Arboretum has a checklist of some 180+ species of birds that have been seen here at various times of the year, of which in excess of 100 species can easily be seen in any year by the assiduous birder.
You will find the best birding at the quieter times of the day, especially in the early morning and, of course, when there is a lot of activity in the Arboretum the birds retreat to the further corners of the forest.
More species of birds are seen each year at the Arboretum than almost anywhere else on the Island of Montreal. This page will give you some useful information about what to see and where you are most likely to see it.
There is a FREE guide to birding in the Arboretum that you can download by clicking on this illustration of it's cover.
New to birding? Read these helpful tips on how to get started.
The birds you might see .......
The Morgan Arboretum, a 245-ha preserve of woods and fields owned by McGill University, provides consistently good birding year round.
[For a "virtual" birding trail within the arborteum click here]
In summer, it has one of the highest numbers of breeding species on the Island of Montreal. A dozen or more species of warblers nest here. In the fall, the Arboretum is a good vantage point from which to view the hawk migration. In the winter, the Arboretum attracts winter finches, crossbills, the occasional northern woodpecker and raptors such as the Northern Goshawk. Spring migrants, particularly warblers, are plentiful although they are more spread out and harder to find than in migrant traps like Summit Park.
The forest has been said to be one of the most diverse in southwestern Quebec in terms of tree species and is also the largest on the Island of Montreal. It hosts such forest-nesting species as Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Scarlet Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Philadelphia Vireo and Ovenbird.
At least four species of owls; Great Horned, Northern Saw-whet, Barred and Eastern Screech-Owl have bred here and Great Gray and Boreal Owls have been found here in winter. The extensive evergreen plantations attract species with a more boreal affinity.
Entrance and First Parking Lot
The fields to your left and right after you turn onto Chemin des Pins may contain Horned Larks, American Pipits and Snow Buntings in the right season. Check the tall trees for a perched Northern Shrike, Red-tailed Hawk or other raptor. A few years ago, a Red-headed Woodpecker spent part of the winter in the area around the farm pond on the left. Cliff Swallows nest on the Doppler radar tower dome.
After you pass the gatehouse, the field to your left after the first parking lot is a good place to see soaring Turkey Vultures, a Coopers or Sharp-shinned hawk flying through the tops of the trees, or a speeding Merlin or Peregrine Falcon.
The feeders, maintained in fall, winter and spring by Bird Protection Quebec, attract the usual feeder birds and occasionally Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Check out the conifers in winter for overwintering passerines such as American Robins and for owls.
Main Road (Orange Trail)
A variety of forest birds can be seen along the trail at all times of year. In summer, breeding forest birds include Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green and Blackburnian warblers, Hermit and Wood thrushes, Brown Creeper, Veery, Ovenbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Pileated Woodpecker. Owls can sometimes be seen swooping through the woods or heard calling. The pond in the northwestern corner is a particularly good place for migrants in spring and fall.
When you take the Main Road (Orange Trail) counterclockwise, this is the first clearing on the left. It has flowering fruit trees, gardens and some well-placed benches to bird from. Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings are attracted to the numerous fruit trees in winter. White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos have overwintered in the cedars, thanks to the feeders nearby. In spring, check out the quarry pond for Wood Ducks. Eastern Screech-Owls have been found in this area. The woods between Blossom Corner and the Chalet Pruche are excellent for migrating passerines.
Chalet Pruche and Larch Plantations
Continuing counterclockwise along the Main Road, you will come to the larch plantations and Chalet Pruche, just behind. The tall larches along the main road are often filled with a variety of migrating warblers in spring. Eastern Towhee has been spotted here, and Great Horned Owls have nested in the larches north of Chalet Pruche.
The edge habitat in the field east of Chalet Pruche is a reliable spot for breeding Indigo Buntings.
"Bobolink" and AlfalfaFields
Further along the Main Road in the same direction is the Bobolink field, which has breeding Bobolinks in summer.
The alfalfa field is just to the east of Bobolink field. Water collects here in spring, attracting ducks such as Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Wood Duck and the occasional yellowlegs or other shorebird. Savannah Sparrows breed here. It may also contain a perched Northern Goshawk, an overflying Common Raven or Common Nighthawk, or browsing White-tailed Deer.
Pullins Pasture, an overgrown field with many fruiting shrubs and trees, has an interior trail (an extension of the Yellow Trail) that loops 2 km around the field and two paths on either side extending from the Main Road. Pullins Pasture can be reached by taking either one of these paths and then by cutting into the pasture itself.
Pullins Pasture is good at all times of the year, but requires skis in winter. In summer, breeding species include the House Wren (many pairs); Northern Cardinal; Alder Flycatcher; Yellow, Chestnut-sided and Black-and-white warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Kingbird and Gray Catbird. Mourning Warblers have also nested here.
In fall, the fruiting trees, shrubs and vines and weed seeds attract throngs of American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, migrating sparrows and other species, which in turn provide fodder for bird-eating hawks, including Merlin and Sharp-shinned and Coopers hawks. A particularly good vantage point is the spot where the Yellow Trail cuts into the middle of the Pasture and then loops around back to the edge.
Other species that have been seen here include Ruffed Grouse, Black-billed Cuckoo, Black-backed Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeak, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, the various swallows and American Woodcock.
Yellow Trail, Red Trail and Evergreen Plantations
In winter, the evergreen plantations, just south of the Main Road and accessible by the Yellow Trail from the dog parking lot, are a good spot to search for Pine Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings, Brown Creepers, crossbills and northern woodpeckers. Golden-crowned Kinglets, which breed in the plantations in summer, overwinter here regularly. Red-breasted Nuthatches do the same. Part of the plantations can also be accessed via the Red Trail.
The above text was written by Bird Protection Quebec member , Betsy McFarlane, who visits the Arboretum almost every day of the year to watch the birds.
Last Updated: Monday, 25 July 2016 14:39