Île d’Orléans has surprises on every corner of the island. It could be some awesome boutiques, beautiful trees, landscapes or views, unforgettable foods – but what about the wildlife? We caught up with Vincent L’Étourneau – biologist and ornithologist while he was staying in Motel Île d’Orléans to chat about birds that can be seen on the island and in Quebec.
L’Étourneau – which coincidentally translates to the bird Starling in English – started to observe birds and nature around him when he was a teenager. A friend of his in the Eastern Townships showed him the beauty of some of the birds of his area and from there, his interest grew. He invested in some bird books and binoculars and he began to teach himself about birds and habitats.
He became fascinated at the diversity of birds that could be seen in the Quebec region, from birds of prey to colorful birds you may only expect to see in the tropics. Through his studies and dedication he became a specialist in his field and with his expertise then he has had the chance to travel Quebec, various other parts of Canada and sometimes even further afield to the likes of Africa.
But what brings him to the island? He is currently interested in some aquatic birds that are situated around the island and in the St. Lawrence River. However, he has often extended his studies beyond birds to include bats, snakes, and frogs so when he is observing he is always having an eye out for all kinds wildlife surrounding him.
The best spot he has found for bird watching is right after the bridge. With a view over both the river, the landscape, and the muddy prairies then he said the variety of birds that is possible to see is breathtaking. Of course, there are no guarantees with nature but chances are increased during the spring (April/May) and autumn (end September/October) migration periods.
From this point on the island then you may catch a glimpse of Snow Geese or Canadian Geese, lots of variety of ducks and he often sees groups of bald eagles gliding over the rocks. One of his favorite birds he has also observed here, the Northern Harrier. A bird of prey, L’Étourneau admired its effortlessly beautiful flight and search for prey in the prairies or the St. Lawrence River. He cannot pin down why exactly it is one of the most spectacular birds he observes but the passion on his face is enough for us to want to catch a glimpse.
If you are a new birdwatcher or just want to start your bird watching adventure then he recommended starting with basic binoculars, a book or using the app and website ebird.org. From this database of information, you can find the hotspots to catch some views of birds on Île d’Orléans, Quebec region and much further afield. With pictures, examples of their sound and information on the bird then it’s a perfect information center for experienced birdwatchers and newbies alike. L’Étourneau checks in his bird accounts to this site along with the other enthusiasts.
From his viewing point beside the bridge then the app reports around 160 different species of birds have been spotted from there. However, if you move up a little further to Saint-Petronille then 260 types of birds have been spotted from the famous Rue Horatio Walker.
It seems no matter what area of the island you explore then you are sure to see some unique and beautiful birds along the way. From the surrounding river to the farmlands in the middle – from ducks to birds of prey – the island has some hidden treats for you. Grab a pair of binoculars and find out for yourself!