Birding Spots

Birding Locations

Here are a few of my favourite birding spots around the area of Timmins/South Porcupine and Moonbeam with maps and short descriptions.  Feel free to contact me if you need more information.


10 birding spots in the Timmins / South Porcupine area.
See list below for description.

1. PORCUPINE LAKE (Spring, Summer and Fall)
Situated right in South Porcupine, Porcupine Lake attracts an important variety of bird species. Over 190 species of birds were reported at Porcupine Lake during the last decade. It's a great birding location, especially in spring and fall; over 30 different species of waterfowls (Geese, ducks, swans, scoters, grebes, coots...) and 21 different species of shorebirds have been seen around the lake, which illustrates the importance of this location as a stopover for migrating birds. The trails surrounding Porcupine Lake are great for observing and listening to many species of thrushes, kinglets, woodpeckers, vireos, finches, Cedar Waxwings, flycatchers, sparrows and last but not least, a great variety of warblers (24 different species of warblers were observed around Porcupine Lake).

Porcupine Lake is also an ideal spot to look for gulls during spring and fall, especially in mid to late April when only a small portion of the lake consists of open water: Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls, as well as the occasional Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Iceland Gull, and Glaucous Gull will stand on the ice shelf near open water. Migrating Bonaparte's Gulls can also be viewed at the lake in early to mid May.  Notable gull sightings at Porcupine Lake: A Franklin's Gull made an appearance on April 25, 2017 and a Laughing Gull on October 18, 2019.

The area surrounding Porcupine Lake is approximately 10 km with 8 km on a trail (in Red) and around 2 km on roads (in yellow).

Map of South Porcupine.  Porcupine Lake Trails (1) and part
of the Bart Thompson Trail (2) ©MRCA

The map is from Mattagami Region Conservation Authority -
The MRCA does a great job at creating and maintaining the trail systems in the area.

2- Bart Thompson Trail (All seasons)
Another great accessible trail where you can view birds during any season.  You can access this trail at the end of Legion Drive in South Porcupine. During the winter, it's a good spot to observe Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, Boreal Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and sometimes White-winged Crossbills.  Black-backed Woodpeckers and American Three-toed Woodpeckers have also been spotted on this trail.

3- Hollinger Tailings Ponds (Also called McIntyre Tailings) (Spring, Summer, Fall) (approx. 3km-4km walk)
One of my favourite spot to observe waterfowl and shorebirds in spring and fall. This area consists of a large old mining tailings area that remains from the historic Hollinger Gold Mine. In September to November, the water level often drops in the south pond, exposing a few small mud flats where you can spot migrating shorebirds such as Least, Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlins, Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers and Yellowlegs. This spot has great potential for significant species, like the Hudsonian Godwit and the Long-billed Dowitcher who stopped by during fall 2019.  A scope is highly recommended for viewing the exposed mud areas.
View of the mud flats and the iconic McIntyre Headframe
Hollinger Tailings Ponds Timmins 

Directions (see map below for details) From Timmins, take highway 655 for less than 1 km. Parking (orange) is just on the east side of Hwy 655 across Ross street.  There is a barrier (purple) to prevent vehicles but pedestrians can easily go passed it. Once you pass the barrier, there are 2 paths to get to the ponds (see green paths on map) The easiest way: once you pass the gate, walk 430 metres north, then turn right and walk 300 metres east to arrive at the ponds.  In spring, the marshy area located just south of the south pond is also an interesting spot to explore (it's usually dry in the fall).

Hollinger Tailings Ponds Location
Modified map from 

4- Hersey Lake Conservation Area (All seasons)
In winter, a feeding station north of the parking lot attracts many boreal species, which makes this area a great place to introduce anyone to the beauty of winter birds.  Blue Jays, Canada Jays, Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Common Redpolls, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Grosbeaks are often present around the feeder area in winter. What makes Hersey Lake Conservation Area a prime winter birding location is the extensive conifer (mostly Jack Pine) habitat where you can see the elusive Black-backed Woodpecker and American Three-toed Woodpecker. In fact, some winters, it may be possible to see all 5 of our resident woodpeckers in one day! (Let us know if you succeed this HLCA Woodpecker challenge!) 

Note: Guided walks are organized each season at Hersey Lake Conservation Area and other locations by the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority and the Wintergreen Fund for Conservation. Visit their website and follow them on Facebook ( for Spring Hiking Day (May), Fall Hiking Day (Oct), Summer Hiking Day (June) and Winter Hiking Day (February)

5- Gillies Lake Conservation Area (Spring, Summer, Fall) 
Situated in Timmins, this lake is surrounded by a trail and boardwalk which makes it an easy 2.3 km walk. It's a good place to see waterfowl and gulls during migration. A good variety of warblers and sparrows also stop by during migration in spring and fall and the thick, low vegetation on the north side of the lake is perfect for getting great looks at songbirds. When you are at Gillies Lake, stop by the MRCA office and get a copy of the new updated  Timmins Checklist of Birds (available in EN and FR)

6- Maclean Drive Trails (All seasons)
This is another nice accessible trail ideal for year-round birding.  You can access this trail on Maclean drive or beside the Timmins District Hospital.

7- Rural roads west of Timmins (Mountjoy rural roads) (private agricultural lands) (Spring and fall)
 Please note that these are all private lands and birds can be viewed from the road only; do not trespass on private property, and do not park in a manner than impedes local traffic.  Always respect the resting birds and the land owners. The first section includes Government rd North (accessible beside Wall Mart), Jaguar rd N, and Sandy Falls road.  The other section is accessible by Airport rd and it includes Kraft Creek rd and Lefebvre rd.  These rural roads are great in early spring as well as in fall if you want to observe flocks of Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, the odd Snow Geese and many waterfowl species.  The fields also attract Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings during migration.  Northern Harriers and Rough-legged Hawks also love to hunt in those fields and the flocks of migrating birds will sometimes attract the elusive Peregrine Falcons.  Notable sightings: Northern Wheatear (Oct 2018), Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (July 2021)

8- Connaught road marsh (Spring and Fall)
This marsh is a hidden gem.  In spring, early summer and fall, it's an ideal spot to observe and listen to Sora, Virginia Rail,  Pied-billed Grebes and many types of ducks.  Flycatchers, sparrows and warblers are also abundant in the surrounding vegetation near the marsh.

9 - Connaught - Frederick House Lake waterfront (Spring and Fall)
This vast waterfront area is an important one to visit in April because it is one of the first areas to thaw in spring, which attracts many waterfowl looking for open water.  When the water level is low, the sandy shore also attracts some shorebirds. There is usually open water at the Frederick House River bridge as early as the last week of March.  Notable sightings: A pair of Harlequin Ducks made a surprise stop to this area in April 2017.

10- Kettle Lakes Provincial Park (Operating Dates: May 20 to Oct 15- Park entrance fee)
This provincial park offers 22 deep spring-fed lakes, 4 beautiful hiking trails and a few great bicycles trails.  Although this park contains some mixed forest habitat suitable to many songbirds, what I love about it is the extensive Jack Pines boreal forest where you can find Black-backed Woodpeckers, Blue-headed Vireos and Brown-creeper.

Sewage Lagoons (not on map)
The Timmins immediate area has 2 sewage lagoons but they are both fenced off.  On the other hand, a few smaller localities located east of the Timmins Area have sewage lagoons:  Porquis Junction (gated), Val Gagné (gated but somewhat accessible), Ramore (gated but viewable from road with scope), Holtyre (gated).


Birding spots around the Moonbeam area

1. Moonbeam Nature Trails (All season)
The Moonbeam Nature Trails system is one of the best in Northern Ontario.  Imagine all the birds you can see and hear while hiking or cycling those 34 kilometres of trails in the deep Boreal forest.  The trail that links the town of Moonbeam to René Brunelle Provincial Park is paved (11 km) and offers a great look-out deck at Balsam Lake.  For Moonbeam Nature Trails map and description, visit these sites Moonbeam Nature Trail Map
and Moobeam Nature Trails Brochure

The Balsam Lake look-out deck - Moonbeam Nature Trails
Moonbeam Ontario

2. René Brunelle Provincial Park (Operating: May long weekend to September 4 - Entrance fee)
Situated 11km north of Moonbeam, this Provincial Park has great campsites on the shores of Remi Lake. The park has a brand new rustic cabin for rent right on the water.  There are 3 great sandy beaches and 2 trails in the park boundaries and the Moonbeam Nature Trails are accessible near the park's gate.  The whole park is great for birds.  It's especially known for its many species of breeding warblers.  On the lake itself, apart from ducks and Common Loons, we can observe Gulls (including Bonaparte's) and Common Terns as well as one or two nesting Bald Eagles family.

3. Moonbeam Sewage Lagoon (Spring, Summer, Fall)
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoon, situated just east of the small village of Moonbeam, is underrated; it's of the best spot for observing birds that we don't often see elsewhere.  At least 142 species have been observed so far but visits from birders are infrequent. Sewage Lagoons like this one are stopover points for migrating birds. In spring and fall, you can see waterfowl in large numbers in the 2 cells. Many species of ducks can be observed here including Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Wood Ducks, Northern Pintails, etc,…and a rare Eurasian Wigeon was a surprise visitor in 2015 and 2019.  Red-necked Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots and many shorebirds can also be observed here at the right time of year, especially if the water level drops. If you visit in May or September, you might even observe a Wilson's Phalarope or a Red-necked Phalarope.  Many species of sparrows and warblers also surround the cells.  This spot is definitely worth the drive.

4. Moonbeam South Rural Roads (Spring and Fall)
The rural roads south of Moonbeam are great in early spring and in fall.  We like to start at D'Amours rd, just east of Moonbeam, then follow Ste-Marie rd (make sure you turn east where you'll find the overflowing creek and pond, then up the hill to a dead end where there are always a few hawks) then turn back and take Beauvais rd and St-Jean rd, leading the the Chain of Lakes rd with its many small lakes.  

Before going out there looking for birds, remember to follow these simple guidelines:

1- The welfare of birds comes first.  Your activities must have minimal impact on the birds and their habitats.  Remember that in order to survive, birds need to rest and feed in peace… and that is far more important than us obtaining a photograph.

2- Stay away from active nests and resting, feeding migrants. Do not disclose location of owls, nesting birds and sensitive species.

3- Do not play recordings of bird sounds to attract birds; this negatively impacts their welfare, especially during spring and summer.  

4- Respect the landowner's properties. Do not trespass. 


  1. so happy you are posting my blog would love to meet you and show you the marsh if you ever are traveling through the tri towns . I appreciate your site and your beautiful pictures please keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks Bruce. I love reading your blog! You guys are doing wonderful work up there! I would love to visit the Hilliardton Marsh... I drove by 2 years ago but it was closed. I will try to plan a trip there next spring (and I'll make sure I call ahead or I'll look at the marsh's website for opening hours).

  3. Great site. Thank you for sharing your interest and all the info.