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Aquatic Birds

Updated on October 18, 2014

Aquatic Birds In Ontario Canada

One of the best reasons to live in or visit the province of Ontario, Canada is the opportunity to see our vast array of aquatic birds. Aquatic birds, also known as water birds or waterbirds, are those that live near or on bodies of water. These can include Shorebirds, Waterfowl, Herons, and more.

Ontario has plenty of bodies of water so they are able to thrive here. There are of course the Great Lakes, but we also have plenty of rivers, ponds, and marshes for them as well. While we do get winter weather, many of the aquatic birds still remain here in Southern Ontario so you can bird watch year round.

While I have been bird watching in the past, it was just through looking at birds feeding at the bird feeders in the backyard. Then this year our local paper had shown a photo of a photographer taking a picture of a Great Blue Heron from a bridge in the area. I was amazed at not only the beauty of the bird but that the photographer could get so close to it. So I looked up where that bridge was and then headed down to check it out. The experience was so beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing that I have been going back every chance I get.

All images © of whatsittoyou

Birds Of Ontario

When I first began bird watching there were people around and they would tell me what I was looking at. However I have recently learned that just because someone tells you what they think the bird is, that doesn't mean that they are right. You are better off to have a book that is an accurate reference source.

Birds of Ontario
Birds of Ontario

This is the book that I bought as I live in Ontario. I like it because it narrows it done to only the birds that I will see in Ontario. This makes it much easier to look up what you saw. it also lists the most likely places that you will be able to spot each bird listed.


Killdeer Shore Bird - Charadrius Vociferus

Killdeer Bird
Killdeer Bird

October is a great time for spotting shore birds in Ontario. I have seen them mostly in the early morning. Above is a photo of the one I spotted at Grindstone Creek in Burlington. There were three of them there together.

Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis

This Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) appeared in late September of 2013 at Sunfish Pond, Burlington, Ontario. It was much smaller than most of the other waterfowl in the area. However it was one of the most popular attractions for the bird watchers and photographers since it is not commonly found here.

Ruddy Duck Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size


I have seen both the Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) at Sunfish Pond. Normally they are fairly docile, just floating along the water. However on this particular day one of the swans was rambunctious, running around everywhere and making a lot of noise. Apparently the other swan had seen enough and that's when they charged at each other.

Mute Swans Video

Double Crested Cormorant

I was enthralled with the Cormorant the first time I saw one. It was just floating one top of the water and then it dove under water and didn't come up for a long time. I had never seen a bird remain underwater for so long. Perhaps it is my love of snorkeling that makes me admire them.

On a rainy day in October I saw this Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) hanging out near the bridge at Sunfish Pond. This was the first time I ever saw one up close out of the water. So I ran back to my car to get the camera.

Sunfish Pond in Burlington, Ontario

This is a great spot for seeing aquatic birds in the Spring to Fall Season. There are also four types of Heron that can be seen at this location. If you want to see the Herons, you can check out the link in the related articles at the bottom of the page.

Sunfish Pond, in Burlington, Ontario:
1229 Spring Gardens Road, Burlington, Ontario L7T 4H4

get directions

For The Dedicated Bird Watcher

If you are going to spend a long time bird watching I suggest you bring a portable stool. That way you can rest your legs while you wait. Plus as an added bonus is it can help camouflage you from the birds as you may hide in the brush.

Texsport Portable Outdoor Folding Tripod Stool
Texsport Portable Outdoor Folding Tripod Stool

This is the one that I bought. It will hold people who weigh up to 230 pounds. It is lightweight and the shoulder strap makes it easy to carry to your destination.


Juvenile Night Heron

I spotted this Juvenile Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) at Cootes Paradise in Hamilton, Ontario. I had seen the adult before in Burlington at Sunfish Pond, but this was the first time seeing the Juvenile. It looks similar to the Green Heron but you can tell it is a Night Heron because of its red eyes.

Winter Birding

If you want to see aquatic birds during the winter months you can head over to Fifty Point Conservation Area in Winona, Ontario. There is a boat launch area right in front of the Landing Restaurant where all of the birds gather.

There are always Canadian Geese (Branta canadensis) and Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) there. When I went one day in January, I also saw some Redheads - Aythya Americana, Greater Scaups (Aythya marila), another that may have been a Goldeneye, and one that may have been a Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola).

Thank you to fellow writer and birder patgoltz who helped me to confirm that it was a Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and a male Bufflehead.

Aquatic Birds at Fifty Point Conservation Area

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Canadian GeeseMallardsRedheadGreater ScaupCommon GoldeneyeMale Bufflehead
Canadian Geese
Canadian Geese
Greater Scaup
Greater Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Male Bufflehead
Male Bufflehead

Fifty Point Conservation Area

I recently found this spot for bird watching in the winter.

1479 Baseline Road, Winona, Ontario L8E 3L8

get directions

What Is Your Favorite Aquatic Bird?

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    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      We have ducks and herons on the creek behind our house and they are fun to watch. I sure enjoyed reading about these water birds.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have a special place in my heart for cranes, egrets, and the like. They are so long and graceful. Your photos are great!

    • Raimause profile image


      5 years ago

      Being from Minnesota, I like the Loon for its very iconic noise, but I also like the tall-standing birds like herons and egrets. They are just so different from other birds.

    • Whatsittoyou profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Canada

      @Pat Goltz: Thank you. That was what I believed it to be, but I have found there is some variation in the looks of the birds depending on its age or season. So while it looked similar to what was in my book it wasn't identical. I have now labeled it as such.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      5 years ago

      I looked at Sibley's. I'd say the second to last is a Common Goldeneye. We rarely get them here. I don't have one yet.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      5 years ago

      That's a tough one. I like two in particular. Wood Ducks and American Avocets. You've got some good pictures. I especially like the one of the Double-crested Cormorant. We get them here, but they're solid brown. This looks like a youngster. I love the antics of the Black-crowned Night Herons.

    • Max Globe profile image

      Max Globe 

      5 years ago

      I'll go with Double Crested Cormorant, it is so beautiful and kind of...cute) No one can arque with that. I love birds, thank you for this entertaining lens!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      5 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Great photos! It would be hard to pick a favorite. It must have been enjoyable getting these shots! Thanks for sharing them.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Haven't really got a favourite, but am very impressed with black swans, and their white relatives.


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