Winter’s Feathered Wonders: A Guide to Winter Bird Watching


As winter blankets Manitoba’s Interlake in a serene quilt of snow, a remarkable transformation takes place in the avian world. Far from being devoid of life, the winter landscape becomes a theatre for an array of resilient and captivating birds. Join us on a journey into the heart of winter bird watching in Manitoba’s Interlake, where the landscape may be frozen, but the skies are alive with feathered wonders.


The Winter Avian Residents:
  1. Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus): Snowy Owls are often seen in open fields and tundra habitats. Their white plumage helps them blend in with the snowy surroundings.
  2. Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator): These finches have a distinctive red plumage, and they are often found in coniferous forests during the winter, feeding on seeds and fruits.
  3. Spurce grouse (Canachites canadensis): These small chicken-like birds can often be found standing in the middle of the road in forested areas, like Hecla Island and Fisher River.


  4. Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula): Hawk owls are diurnal hunters and are known for their striking appearance. Look for them perched on elevated spots, scanning the surroundings for prey.
  5. Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea): These small finches are adapted to cold climates and can be found in winter flocks. Look for their distinctive red caps and streaked bodies.
  6. Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus): These elegant birds are known for their sleek appearance and distinctive markings. They are often found in large flocks, feasting on berries during the winter.


  7. Common Raven (Corvus corax): Ravens are highly adaptable birds and can be found in various habitats, including forests, fields, and urban areas. Their large size and distinctive croaking calls make them easily recognizable.
  8. Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis): Snow Buntings are well-adapted to the cold and are often seen foraging for seeds on snow-covered fields. The males have striking white and black plumage. They often form enormous flocks of hundreds of birds flitting over the fields.
  9. Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) – This stunning yellow finch is a favourite around bird feeders. Listen for their distinctive bell-like call from the tops of trees in the forest.


Best Winter Bird Watching Locations:
  1. Oak Hammock Marsh: Located near Stonewall in Manitoba, is an important wetland area that attracts a variety of bird species, including waterfowl, raptors, and passerines, during the winter. Check out their Christmas Bird Count on December 16, 2023, from 7:45 am to 3:00 pm to help count their winter resident species during this annual event; a hot lunch is provided. Please contact Paula Grieef to register: Call 204-467-3243 or email Please register by December 9th.
  2. Hecla Island: Explore Hecla Island’s diverse habitats, from frozen lakeshores to wooded areas. The island is home to a variety of winter birds, including owls and winter finches. Check out this list of trails that offer some of the best sightings on the island.
  3. Dunnottar: This area presents winter sightings of Snow Buntings and Common Redpolls. Scan the skies for majestic Bald Eagles and listen for the cheerful calls of Black-capped Chickadees in this winter avian haven. Join the Dunnottar Bird Watch Group to check out what others are watching in the area.
  4. Lake Manitoba Narrows: The narrows area can be a good location for winter bird-watching, especially for waterfowl and wintering birds near the lake. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, waterfowl, and other birds in this picturesque setting.


Tips for Winter Bird Watching:
  1. Dress in Layers: Manitoba winters, as we all know, are cold, so dressing in layers is crucial for staying warm during extended bird-watching sessions.
  2. Use Binoculars and Spotting Scopes: The winter landscape may make birds harder to spot, so invest in good-quality binoculars or a spotting scope for clear and detailed views.
  3. Choose the Right Time of Day: Birds are often more active during the early morning or late afternoon. Plan your bird-watching excursions during these times for the best chances of sightings.
  4. Patience is Key: Winter bird watching may require more patience, as birds may be more scattered and cautious. Find a comfortable spot, be still, and let the birds come to you.
  5. Make sure to always inform someone about your destination and expected duration when heading out. It’s especially important to share your whereabouts when traveling in freezing conditions or stepping onto an icy lake.


Winter in Manitoba’s Interlake is not a time of hibernation for its avian residents; instead, it’s a season of resilience and adaptability. Armed with the right knowledge and gear, winter bird watchers can unlock a world of feathered wonders against the backdrop of a snow-covered landscape. So, bundle up, grab your binoculars, and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of winter bird watching in Manitoba’s Interlake.