Bird Watching

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

The Birds of Harris Hill Resort

Our Resort is an ideal location from which to explore the birding opportunities of the Rainy River area in Northwestern Ontario. We are easily accessible and only 1 mile off paved Highway 600. Our Resort is located 26 km. or 17 miles north of the Town of Rainy River in the southeast corner of the Lake of the Woods. We are surrounded by oak and aspen woodlands with extensive farmlands and wet meadows close by to the south. From the Resort dock a marvelous view of Windy Bay with its shoreline marshes, the long sandy split of Windy Point and the waters of Lake of the Woods introduces bird watchers to the rich bird life. This combination of habitats supports a very large variety and number of birds including many of the special bird species of the Rainy River area.

The Seasons

Spring birding begins in early April when the forests and fields are snow free. The ice begins to break up by late April and often the bay is open before the main part of the lake. The open water attracts large numbers of migrating Loons, Grebes, Ducks, Gulls and Geese. By early May the first Sparrows, Thrushes, Warblers, Flycatchers and Blackbirds (Red Winged & Yellow-Headed) are moving north through the shoreline woods often in impressive numbers. Shorebirds are also arriving and the sandy beaches and small islets of Windy Point are a magnet to the migrants.

By early June, the spring migrant rush is over and the woodlands and meadows around the Resort ring with the songs of breeding birds that blend with the voices of the bird residents of the marshes. Large feeding flocks of American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, Gulls and Terns often visit the bay, a most impressive sight.

Fall migration starts in late July with the first south-bound shorebirds appearing. Warblers and Flycatchers move south through the woodlands in late August followed by Sparrows and Thrushes into mid-October.

Winter is a quieter time. The well stocked bird feeders at the Resort nonetheless attract a large number of winter visitors including Finches, Grosbeaks, Nuthatches, Chickadees and Woodpeckers. An occasional Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Black-billed Magpie and the ever-present Common Raven can be found in and around the open farmlands south of the Resort.

Key Bird Areas

Windy Bay and Windy Point - Just by standing on the Resort dock, the birder can see a large number of birds. American White Pelicans float on the bay or soar overhead. Yellow-Headed Blackbirds and Sandhill Cranes frequent the shoreline marshes. Franklin's Gulls fly by or loaf on the islets and beaches. Bald Eagles nest nearby and on Snake Island. They also often perch in trees along the point. Common Terns nest on the point as has the rare and nearly extinct Piping Plover. Exploring the bay and the point by boat or canoe can be even more rewarding when watching for bird species. Boat Rides can be arranged, or rent a boat.

The Resort Grounds - The oak and aspen woodlands of the Resort area are easily explored simply by walking the roads. The woodlands host a large number and variety of migrant and breeding birds, such as Finches, Sparrows, Orioles, Warblers and Flycatchers. Check out the busy Resort bird houses and bird feeders. Since 2005, an Orchard Oriole was a regular visitor at the hummingbird feeders. In 2006 & 2008 a Bullock's Oriole may have been seen, but we could not get a picture of it. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker has made his home here since fall of 2006.

Farmlands and Meadows - Driving the roads through the farmlands south of the Resort one will be rewarded by seeing and hearing Sandhill Cranes, Black-Billed Magpies, LeConte's Sparrows, Western Meadowlarks, Brewer's Blackbirds, Sharp-Tailed Grouse and other grassland bird species. In wet years, Yellow Rails can often be heard from the roadsides. Evening drives often turn up Short-Eared and Long-Eared Owls.

Piping Plover

Cheryl and Gary Gauthier, your hosts at Harris Hill Resort, are very familiar with the birds of the Resort area and can assist you by providing bird checklists, maps, directions, weather details and other helpful information. We also have a supply of smaller binoculars, books on Birds, Native Plants, Butterflies etc.

Boat rides can be arranged or you can rent a boat and explore Windy Bay, Sable Islands and Lake of the Woods at your leisure.

You may also rent one of our cabins at a reduced rate for bird watchers; See the rate or prices under the "Specials" section of this site. Meals can also be arranged.

We hope that your birding stay at will be rewarding, enjoyable and most of all, memorable.

Special Birds of the Harris Hill Resort Area

Orchard Oriole - Resort grounds
American White Pelican - Windy Bay, overhead
Bald Eagle - Windy Bay, Lake of the Woods, overhead
Sharp-tailed Grouse - fields, meadows, roadsides, south of the Resort
Sandhill Crane - fields, meadows south of the Resort, Windy Bay marshes
Yellow Rail - wet meadows, the Big Marsh off Fred's Road
Piping Plover - Windy Point, Sable Islands
Marbled Godwit - fields near Rainy River
Wilson's Phalarope - Windy Point, Rainy River sewage ponds
Franklin's Gull - Windy Bay and Point, overhead.
Red-headed Woodpecker - Resort grounds, aspen stands to the south
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Resort grounds, aspen stands to the south
Western Kingbird - throughout area but irregular in occurrence
Black-billed Magpie - throughout area; always in resort grounds
Sedge Wren - wet and brushy meadows to the south
Yellow-Throated Vireo - aspen and oak woodlands
Connecticut Warbler - aspen grooves south of the Resort
Brewer's Blackbird - fields and roadsides to the south
Yellow-headed Blackbird - Windy Bay marshes, Resort feeders in spring
Western Meadowlark - fields to the south
Clay-coloured Sparrow - brushy fields to the south
LeConte's Sparrow - wet meadows and hayfields south of the Resort.
Click to view & print PDF version of the "BIRD GUIDE to the RAINY RIVER DISTRICT"

Click to view & print PDF version of the "MAPS for the BIRD GUIDE to the RAINY RIVER DISTRICT"

Click to view & print PDF version of this "BIRD CHECKLIST" (list of birds" in area)

302+ Species of Birds

Rainy River District

Birder's Guide

Harris Hill Resort

* or B = confirmed breeding species (* = Ontario Nest Records Scheme)

(red color denotes bird

specialties in the Harris Hill Resort Area)

R = Rare, Uncommon or only Locally Common W = Winter Resident only V = Vagrant Blank = common & seen annually in suitable habitat
Common Loon *B Common Goldeneye *B Solitary Sandpiper Black-billed Cuckoo *B
Barrow's Goldeneye V Spotted Sandpiper *B Yellow-billed Cuckoo R
Pied-Billed Grebe *B Bufflehead Willet V
Horned Grebe B Hooded Merganser *B Upland Sandpiper B Eastern Screech-Owl R

Red-necked Grebe *BR

Common Merganser *B Whimbrel Great Horned Owl *B
Eared Grebe V Red-breasted Merganser B Hudsonian Godwit Snowy Owl
Western Grebe V Marbled Godwit * Northern Hawk Owl B
Ruddy Duck R Ruddy Turnstone Barred Owl B
American White Pelican B Red Knot Great Grey Owl B
Double-crested Cormorant B Turkey Vulture B Sanderling Long-eared Owl B
Little Blue Heron V? NEW BIRD 2008 Osprey *B Semipalmated Sandpiper Short-eared Owl
American Bittern *B Bald Eagle *B Western Sandpiper Boreal Owl *B
Least Bittern BR Northern Harrier B Least Sandpiper Northern Saw-whet Owl * B
Great Blue Heron *B Sharp-shinned Hawk B White-rumped Sandpiper
Great Egret V Cooper's Hawk B Baird's Sandpiper Common Nighthawk *B
Snowy Egret Northern Goshawk *B Pectoral Sandpiper Whip-poor-will B
Cattle Egret V Red-shouldered Hawk V Dunlin
Green Heron Broad-winged Hawk *B Stilt Sandpiper Chimney Swift B
Black-crowned Night-Heron Swainson's Hawk V Buff-breasted Sandpiper R
Trumpeter Swan Red-tailed Hawk *B Short-billed Sandpiper Ruby-throated Hummingbird *B
Tundra Swan Rough-legged Hawk Long-billed Dowitcher Rufous Hummingbird V
Greater White-fronted Goose Golden Eagle R Common Snipe *B
Snow Goose American Kestrel *B American Woodcock *B Belted Kingfisher *B
Canada Goose *B Merlin*B Wilson's Phalarope B
Wood Duck B Peregrine Falcon R Red-necked Phalarope Lewis Woodpecker V
Green-winged Teal *B Gyrfalcon Short-billed Dowitcher Red-headed Woodpecker *B
American Black Duck *B Spruce Grouse *B Parasitic Jaeger V Red-bellied Woodpecker
Mallard *B Ruffed Grouse *B Franklin's Gull Yellow-bellied Sapsucker *B
Northern Pintail B Sharp-tailed Grouse *B Bonaparte's Gull Downy Woodpecker *B
Blue-winged Teal *B Wild Turkey Ring-billed Gull B Hairy Woodpecker *B
Cinnamon Teal V Yellow Rail B Herring Gull *B American Three-toed Woodpecker
Northern Shoveler B Virginia Rail *B Iceland Gull Black-billed Woodpecker *B
Gadwall R Sora*B Glaucous Gull V Northern Flicker *B
American Wigeon B American Coot *B Sabine's Gull Pileated Woodpecker *B
Canvasback Sandhill Crane B California Gull
Redhead Black-bellied Plover Thayer's Gull Olive-sided Flycatcher B
Ring-necked Duck *B American Golden-Plover Caspian Tern Eastern Wooded-Pewee *B
Greater Scaup Semipalmated Plover Common Tern *B Yellow-bellied Flycatcher *B
Lesser Scaup Piping Plover *BR Forster's Tern Alder Flycatcher B
Harlequin Duck V Killdeer *B Black Tern B Willow Flycatcher R
Oldsquaw Black-necked Stilt V Least Flycatcher *B
Black Scoter R American Yellowlegs Rock Pigeon (Rock Dove) b Eastern Phoebe *B
White-winged Scoter R Lesser Yellowlegs Mourning Dove B Say's Phoebe V
Long-tailed Duck American Avocet -BR Passenger Pigeon - Extinct Great Crested Flycatcher *B
Surf Scoter R Atikokan Greater Yellowlegs Inca Dove Acadian Flycatcher V Kenora
Summer Tanager V
Western Kingbird *BR Sage Thrasher V Scarlet Tanager *B Brambling V
Eastern Kingbird *B Brown Thrasher B Common Chaffinch
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Western Tanager V Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch V
American Pipit Northern Cardinal V Pine Grosbeak W
Horned Lark B Sprague's Pipit BR Indigo Bunting *B Purple Finch *B
Purple Martin *B Bohemian Waxwing W Dickcissel House Finch
Tree Swallow *B Cedar Waxwing *B Field Sparrow R Kenora Red Crossbill
Northern Rough-winged Swallow B Northern Shrike W Eastern Towhee White-winged Crossbill
Bank Swallow *B Loggerhead Shrike *R Spotted Towhee Common Redpoll W
Cliff Swallow *B European Starling *B American Tree Sparrow Hoary Redpoll W
Barn Swallow *B Chipping Sparrow *B Pine Siskin B
Solitary Vireo *B Clay-colored Sparrow *B American Goldfinch B
Gray Jay B Yellow-throated Vireo *B Vesper Sparrow *B European Goldfinch
Blue Jay B Warbling Vireo B Lark Sparrow v Evening Grosbeak B
Black-billed Magpie *B Philadelphia Vireo *B Lark Bunting Rose-breasted Grosbeak B
American Crow *B Red-eyed Vireo *B Savannah Sparrow *B House Sparrow *B
Common Raven *B Prairie Warbler Grasshopper Sparrow
Clark's Nutcracker V Dryden Golden-winged Warbler B Le Conte's Sparrow B
Black-capped Chickadee *B Tennessee Warbler B Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Boreal Chickadee *B Orange-crowned Warbler Fox Sparrow
Red-breasted Nuthatch *B Nashville Warbler *B Song Sparrow *B
White-breasted Nuthatch B Northern Parula B Lincoln's Sparrow B
Brown Creeper *B Yellow Warbler *B Swamp Sparrow *B
Chestnut-sided Warbler *B White-throated Sparrow *B
Carolina Wren Magnolia Warbler *B White-crowned Sparrow
House Wren *B Cape May Warbler *B Harris's Sparrow
Winter Wren B Black-throated Blue Warbler B Baird's Sparrow
Sedge Wren *B Yellow-rumped Warbler *B Dark-eyed Junco B
Marsh Wren *B Black-throated Green Warbler B Lapland Longspur
Blackburnian Warbler B Smith's Longspur
Golden-crowned Kinglet B Pine Warbler *B Snow Bunting
Ruby-crowned Kinglet *B Palm Warbler B Bobolink *B
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher V Bay-breasted Warbler B Red-winged Blackbird *B
Eastern Bluebird *B Blackpoll Warbler Eastern Meadowlark B
Mountain Bluebird V Black-and-white Warbler B Western Meadowlark *B
Veery *B American Redstart *B Yellow-headed Blackbird *B
Gray-cheeked Thrush Prothonotary Warbler B Rusty Blackbird B
Swainson's Thrush *B Ovenbird *B Brewer's Blackbird *B
Hermit Thrush *B Northern Waterthrush *B Great-tailed Grackle
Wood Thrush B Connecticut Warbler B Common Grackle *B
American Robin *B Mourning Warbler *B Brown-headed Cowbird *B
Varied Thrush V Common Yellowthroat *B Orchard Oriole
Gray Catbird *B Wilson's Warbler B Northern Oriole *B
Northern Mockingbird V Canada Warbler B
Prairie Warbler