Though there were barely 3,000 snow geese in the early 1900s, today, their population is an estimated 800,000!

Wildlife observation

Vibrant and abundant!

Photo. From the Canada goose to the great blue heron, from the moose to the humpback whale, more than 650 animal species—including 200 fish and 325 bird species—inhabit Québec’s carefully preserved territory. Many of these species can be seen in the wilderness or by chance during a stroll through the forest, say, in one of Québec’s national parks or wildlife reserves.

The same goes for marine mammals, including whales—the St. Lawrence Estuary is teeming with them—migratory birds and numerous land mammals, such as cervids (white-tailed deer, moose, caribou and more), bears and beavers.

Whale watchingForest dwellersBird watching

The snow geese: epic voyagers

A gathering not to be missed

Photo. Twice a year, hundreds of thousands of snow geese alight alongside the St. Lawrence River. An unbelievable feast for the eyes and ears, the immense flocks transform the river into a rippling sea of white as the air fills with deafening cries. And when these valiant vagabonds suddenly take wing, the sight of their breathtaking aerial ballet is the stuff of legend.

Fall migration

QuébecIn October, the snow geese take a break along the St. Lawrence estuary, where they feed on the river’s muddy banks for about three weeks before continuing upon the journey that will take them from the Great North to their winter habitat on the Atlantic seaside. The most impressive concentrations can usually be seen mid-month at Cap Tourmente, 60 km (37 mi.) east of Québec City. This national wildlife reserve harbours the common threesquare, a plant that constitutes the goose’s favourite food. The reserve’s 20 km (12 mi.) of trails are sprinkled with observation stations, including an observatory atop a 150-m (490-ft.) cliff.

Large numbers of geese can also be observed at Montmagny, home to the famous Snow goose festival each October, as well as in the neighbouring archipelago of Isle-aux-Grues. For a long time the geese were also found along the Rivière Richelieu down to Lake Champlain. Since the 1990s, however, they are more commonly seen further inland in southern Québec, notably in the vicinities of Victoriaville (Réservoir Beaudet) and Danville (Étang Burbank).
Winging it!

Boat excursions on the St. Lawrence River and in the gulf are perfect for observing seabirds like the murres, puffins and Northern gannets found in great numbers on Île Bonaventure (Gaspésie). Depending on the season, you can observe winged wildlife at many coastal sites, not only in the greater St. Lawrence Valley but also along the banks of the Ottawa and Saguenay rivers, and particularly in Tadoussac. Don’t just seize the opportunity... fly with it!

Spring migration

PhotoReturning in the spring to do the trek in reverse—making for a yearly flight path of some 8,000 km (5,000 mi.)!—the geese touch down on the Atlantic coast in late March and stay until the end of May. Many other bird species, including Canada geese, ducks and birds of prey, join them on their Québec stopover.  Baie-du-Febvre, on the south shore of Lac Saint-Pierre (between Montréal and Québec City) welcomes immense numbers of geese. The greatest gatherings are usually around mid-April. In addition to themed exhibitions, the interpretation centre offers its visitors trails and lookouts as well as an observation corridor.

Though in smaller numbers, the geese also faithfully report to Cap Tourmente each year, where they are later joined by peregrine falcons and ruby-throated hummingbirds. For its part, the Parc national de Plaisance on the Ottawa River plays host to tens of thousands of Canada geese.

Open your eyes wide!

PhotoTo get the most out of your visit to an observation ground, find out about the birds’ movements and inform yourself on the various species present. Be attentive and patient: nature and climate have the upper hand, especially when it comes to geese! In some places, the sunrise and sunset are good times to witness mass take-offs. At high tide, snow geese generally approach the shore, where they are easily spotted plunging their heads into the mud to feed.

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