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Observation sites

From Tadoussac to Colombier

The region’s ornithological potential 

Each fall, the north shore of the St. Lawrence River is transformed into an immense migration corridor, one of the most important in northeastern North America. 

Thousands of raptors and passerines use this corridor every year. Moreover, the presence of the St. Lawrence estuary combined with the rich coastal sites (tidal flats, bays, etc.) make this sector an important migratory stopover for shorebirds and seabirds.  

The Côte-Nord has many interesting birding sites, mainly along the shoreline. The most suitable sites were selected.

Observation sites

© Etienne Delorieux

Dunes of Tadoussac

The Dunes are the epicenter of the activities of the Tadoussac Bird Observatory and the festival. This site is considered the best place in Quebec to observe migrating diurnal raptors. More than 7000 birds of prey of 13 different species are recorded there each fall. The site has the second largest species list in the province with 271 species! 

© David Turgeon

Pointe de l’Islet – Tadoussac

The Pointe de l’Islet site is part of the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay and is located in the heart of the village of Tadoussac. Free access is provided by a trail that circles this rocky point that juts out into the Saguenay River. Exceptional rarities have been observed there, the latest being the Black-tailed Gull noted on October 21, 2019. 

© Jessica Pineault

Pointe à John – Bergeronnes

Pointe-à-John and the Bergeronnes wharf are grouped together in a single location at the end of Rue de la Mer (follow Archéo-Topo). This site offers a clear view of the tidal flats and the estuary. Gulls, seagulls, dabbling ducks and divers frequent the area. More than 200 species have been recorded at this site, including 141 in September. 

© Valérie Copeiro Palomar

Cap de Bon-Désir – Bergeronnes

Cap de Bon-Désir is a land-based marine mammal observation site under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada (entrance fee required). This long rocky point that juts out into the St. Lawrence River allows for the observation of marine birds and whales. The access trail offers good potential for forest birds. 

© Sarah Dubord-Fortin

Escoumins Bay

Located in the heart of the village of Les Escoumins, this bay is one of the best places in Quebec to observe Larids. Black-headed Gulls and Pygmy Gulls are regularly spotted here in the fall in groups of Bonaparte’s Gulls. Small groups of shorebirds can be seen on the non-rocky shores bordering the bay. 

© David Turgeon

Salt marsh – Longue-Rive 

65 km east of Tadoussac, the large salt marsh of Longue-Rive is accessible by the dam road. This marsh is of great interest for the observation of shore birds and waterfowl, from mid-flood tide to mid-ebb tide.  The shoreline on the other side of the point is also an excellent place to watch shorebirds at high tide. 

© Nadine Emond

Portneuf-sur-Mer Sandbar

The Portneuf-sur-Mer sandbar is certainly one of the best sites to observe shorebirds in very large numbers (from mid-flood to mid-ebb tide). This site has been identified as one of the most important sites in Eastern North America for the Silver Plover, the Red Knot and the White-rumped Sandpiper. Note that the bank is more than 4 km long, so plan on spending half a day here to appreciate the birdlife. 

© David Turgeon

The Pointe des Fortin

Another option that requires less walking is the Pointe des Fortin which is located on the eastern shore of the Portneuf River, opposite the sandbar. Shorebirds can gather at the tip of the point at high tide.  Access to the site is via the municipal campground. You can then enjoy the view from a promontory facing the river. 

© ETtLame

Forestville wharf and small marsh 

The Forestville wharf is popular with sea ducks and seabirds, including very large groups of scoters. Behind the wharf, you can discover a small protected marsh and its uncommon species on the Upper North Shore such as the Virginia Rail. 

© ETt Lame

Havre Colombier

Havre Colombier is a rocky bay with a few islands that can be observed from a rest stop halfway between Forestville and Betsiamites. Diving ducks and gulls are well present there.