Nova Scotia is home to dozens of species of birds, and there are many places to see them. Most of them are parks and trails, which means you get to be in nature and see birds as well as other creatures. Experience the rise of spring with a beautiful chorus of birdsong!
You’ll most likely be able to see common species at all of these locations, but if you want to see a specific species, I recommend checking out the Nova Scotia Bird Society and their resources.
Point Pleasant Park
Address: 5530 Point Pleasant Drive
You can actually take a bus to this birding location from downtown Halifax. Like Point Pleasant Park it’s an urban park, but it truly feels only a step away from the busy city. You’ll have access to a few trails (including one that’s off-leash for doggies), and there’s a lovely pond in the middle. The ravine trail is difficult, but the rest are accessible for all regardless of mobility. You’ll see many songbirds as you wander the trails, and there’s plenty of great vantage points.
The BLT Trail
The Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea trail is a beautiful place to walk and hike and bike. Once a railroad, the nearly flat terrain takes you through urban and more natural settings. There are plenty of places to stop and look around with nice benches, and since the trail is often close to rivers or lakes, you’ll see waterfowl as well. Finish your outing at the Bike and Bean Coffee Shop in an old train station—their carrot cake is stupendous.
There are several points of entry to the trail
Chain of Lakes Trail
This is a completely paved trail 7km long, that eventually connects to the BLT Trail. It does cross through some roads, but it also winds along beside 5 lakes, which gives an interesting variety of habitats along the way. Interestingly there’s not much specific information about what kinds of birds are there, just that you’ll see plenty, so this will be a surprise trip!
Atlantic View Trail
Cape Sable Island
This is not the same island as Sable Island, and they are fairly far apart (I guess they ran out of names?). This island is much more accessible, making it perfect for bird watching. It’s a peaceful island where there’s plenty of open space, a beautiful lighthouse, and peace and quiet that is ideal for birdwatching. Bring a picnic, call the fisherman’s number (it’s on a sign in the bar) and get over to the island to relax and bird!
Halifax Public Gardens
The Public Gardens are best known for the flowers and trees (kind of how gardens work). But they also have some beautiful bird guests. You’ll mainly see pigeons and different kinds of ducks (you are not allowed to feed the ducks), but there will be seasonal visitors too. And the best part is that sometimes you won’t be able to see the birds right away, you’ll just hear them from amongst the flower bushes.
Address: 5665 Spring Garden Road
This sprawling park in Dartmouth is a great hub for outdoor activities, and birdwatching is no exception. You’ll find ducks, red-winged blackbirds, ospreys, blue jays, and many more in the different areas of the park. Take one of their trails through the park and see how many different birds you can find!
Address: 54 Locks Road, Dartmouth
McNab’s Island is a wild-looking island just on the edge of the Halifax Harbour. Its wildness comes partly from the rumoured hauntings, but there’s plenty of living animals to see! In fact, birders have recorded about 206 different bird species, which must sound gorgeous in the spring and summer months. This island is easy to get to, so you can make a day out of it and see how many of the birds you can find!
Cole Harbour Heritage Park
This is another lovely urban-adjacent park that allows you to slip into nature. With well-maintained and easier trails, you can wander at will looking for birds. You’ll find local species around here, including some in birdhouses set up along the trails. Best of all, this park is very close to the next location, so you can do a full birdwatching day.
Salt Marsh Trail
Sir Sanford Fleming Park
This park has two features of interest for birders. The first is the Dingle Tower. Once you’ve climbed to the top, you’ll see a beautiful view of the Northwest Arm, and there are usually some nests just outside the windows. I’ve mostly seen pigeons and grackles there, but if you set up camp you may see other birds. If you’re not into stair-climbing (which is totally fair), you can also take the trail to Frog Pond where you’ll find several species of waterfowl, even in the dead of winter.
Address: 260 Dingle Road
Purcell’s Cove Backlands
The Backlands are a huge area (1350 hectares) surrounded by lakes and Purcell’s Cove roads. This is a difficult area for hiking, and it’s recommended that you have a clear navigation plan. But it’s absolutely worth it; over 40 bird species breed here, and you’re likely to see even more. Check out this fascinating area in spring and look out for baby birds!
Sackville Lakes Provincial Park
If you like lakes for observing waterfowl, this park has two! This is a great place to go bird watching with kids because the trails are shorter, but they have amazing views and lots of lovely birds. There’s often Canada geese, which are very cool to see but exercise caution of course; they’re big birds with attitude. Check this park out in the summer to enjoy the splash pad!
Long Lake Provincial Park
Just 15 minutes from downtown Halifax, this park is enormous and comprises a lake (with paddling and swimming), several wilderness trails, and abounds with natural life. There are several habitats within the park’s limits, which directly translates to plenty of different birds to see. Pick a trail or area and wander around, take it all in, and you’ll have a splendid time.
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By: Adrienne Colborne