13 February, 2024

2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the TBO and the migration counts at Tadoussac’s Dunes. Over the past 30 years, millions of birds have been identified, counted, and measured in the region, to bird enthusiasts’ greatest delight. This last year was no exception, with an impressive number of birds observed in the region, including many rare species from the southern and western parts of North America, from the Canadian North and even from Europe. A sincere thank you to the thousands of ornithologists who joined us in our research and outreach activities!

An outstanding biodiversity and some new projects

The Haute-Côte-Nord region is known for hosting an annual influx of rare species, but 2023 particularly stands out. Last year boasted the detection of a record number of bird species, and was the first year since 2002 when that many new species (6) have been added to the total ever recorded. The region now counts 360 observed species.

This year, as a way to showcase the incredible avian biodiversity of our beautiful region, and to raise awareness for the protection of bird habitats, we launched a brand new exhibit. Thirty framed, larger than nature pictures from birds commonly found in the region, have been scattered across 15 exceptional ornithological sites. From Tadoussac to Colombier, come enjoy the legacy of the Côte-Nord’s migratory birds.

This project involved 26 photographers and 12 local partners and was made possible through the financial support of the MRC La Haute-Côte-Nord dans le cadre du Fond régions et ruralité – volet 4 soutien à la vitalisation et à la coopération intermunicipale et de l’Entente de développement culturel.

TBO’s team is overseen by François Gagnon, Explos-Nature Executive Director. Alexandre Terrigeol acts as Operation Director and Jean-François Therrien as Scientific Director. They are supported by an amazing team of biologists, bird banders, and naturalists including Laetitia Desbordes, Sarah Delisle, Francis Bordeleau-Martin, Jessé Roy-Drainville, Thomas Gianoli, Joséphine Grain, Mathieu Landry, Vincent Moreau, Amélia Fortier, Alexander Cristiano-Miserere, Jonathan Gagnon (external), and Thomas Biteau (external). Four graduate students, a scientific committee made up of 9 researchers and more than 100 volunteers completed the team.

Migration monitoring at the Cap-Tourmente National Wildlife Area

In total, 4,188 birds from 74 species were captured, banded, and released in Spring, and 7,672 from 77 species in Autumn, including 79 Bobolinks. The number of species monitored and admissible for the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN), was 109, including 20 warbler species. Daily morning visual surveys tallied a total of 225,041 individuals from 142 taxa in Spring, and 193,522 individuals from 143 taxa in Autumn. Many species that are exceptionally rare for the region were observed, including a Lark Sparrow, a Yellow-breasted Chat, a Prothonotary Warbler, and a Field Sparrow.

Outreach activities related to bird migration and bird banding were once again very successful, attracting 2,910 visitors this year. This project was undertaken with the financial support of Environment and Climate Change Canada.

In 2023, TBO started two new bird monitoring projects at Cap Tourmente NWA. We have also started spring migration monitoring. The first was a detailed survey of breeding activity occuring within the 136 nest boxes designed for insectivorous birds installed in the wildlife area. We monitored 47 clutches of Tree Swallows (36), Eastern Bluebirds (5), House Wrens (5) and Black-capped Chickadees (1).The second project was the establishment of two monitoring stations for bird reproduction and survival, in line with the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survival) network activities.

These projects allow us to estimate key demographic parameters such as bird productivity, recruitment, and individual survival, to better protect these species.

Reverse migration Monitoring at Tadoussac

We recorded four days with over 1000 birds, including one day with an astonishing tally of 229,000 individuals (May 24, 2023).

These reverse migratory movements of many common species are remarkable and some of these numbers broke the established records. Warblers in particular amazed us with an exceptional passage on May 24, with the Bay-breasted Warblers being amazing highlights.

Despite the relevance of this project to further our understanding of the phenomenon, it still receives very little public funding and can only subsist thanks to the generous financial supporters. Finally, it should be noted that more than a hundred bird watchers, including many people from the United States, have been flocking to our study site since 2018 to witness this widely publicized phenomenon.

Neotropical songbird migration monitoring at “Les Bergeronnes”

In 2023, TBO was glad to host five interns from Cégep de Sainte-Foy, Cégep de St-Félicien, Cégep de la Pocatière, and even France. Students from 3 cégeps and universities as well as many visitors visited our facilities, which confirms the important educational role of our projects.

A total of 993 birds from 55 different species were captured, banded, and released. 4,652 birds from 103 species were also observed. We had the unique opportunity to capture and band a rare species for the region: two White-breasted Nuthatches. We also banded 18 different warblers species

This year, a team from SNAP Québec also recorded 3 video segments about our research project, available here: https://youtu.be/wTeeFAdIgdY?si=A5wflykkuKZgV-jh

This project does not benefit from any direct funding sources. Gratefully, we could rely on a grant from Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) to support our efforts this year.


Migration counts - Tadoussac


The raptor count totaled 8,512 individuals this year, which is more than our annual average. Two species are exhibiting downward trends, (Rough-legged Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk), six are increasing (Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Golden Eagle, and Merlin) while the remaining five appear stable (Broad-winged Hawk, Osprey, American Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, and American Kestrel).


The count for songbird migration totaled 182,158 individuals. Common Redpolls (70,845), Pine Siskins (63,762), White-winged Crossbills, (7,231), Bohemian Waxwings (5,973), and Pine Grosbeaks (5,628) were the five most abundant species to migrate over the site this year.

Exceptional sighting

An Gray Flycatcher was observed in Tadoussac on October 20, 2023, the very first mention in Québec for this species from western North America. This sighting marks the 276th species for our study site and the 358th for the Haute-Côte-Nord region.

Northern Saw-whet and Boreal Owls monitoring in Tadoussac

A total of 304 owls were captured including 287 Northern Saw-whet and 17 Boreal owls. 55% of Northern Saw-whet Owls and 76% of Boreal Owls were juveniles (hatch-year). Long-term trends indicate a slight increase in the numbers of Northern Saw-whet Owls and a concerning decline for Boreal Owls.

Our colleagues at Cégep de St-Fécilien captured 61 Northern Saw-whet Owls and two Boreal Owls.

Outreach activites related to Northern Saw-whet and Boreal owl banding operations began during the Migratory Bird Festival. These activities attracted 399 visitors, and 70 Northern Saw-whet Owls and nine Boreal Owls have been adopted by visitors.


We were delighted to recapture 10 Northern Saw-whet Owls, including 8 banded at sister stations in Ohio, Ontario, Michigan, Maine, and Pennsylvania.The most stricking recapture however, was a Boreal Owl which traveled 700 km in 14 days from its first capture location in Abitibi.

This project is part of the Owlnet project. Learn more at: Boreal and Northern Saw-whet Owl Monitoring

monitoring boreal songbird dispersion

Our telemetry monitoring program, through which we study movements of individual birds using the MOTUS network and in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada, began in 2014.

We equipped 15 Purple Finches with tiny transmitters allowing us to follow their migratory paths. Some of those birds were detected more than a dozen times across the United States. This helps us understand the migratory connectivity and habitat use during their annual cycle. Ultimately, the program is yielding important data to assess the cause(s) of population decline for this species in Eastern North America.

In 2023, three boreal songbird species were particularly abundant. Among the 236 Pine Siskins, 339 Common Redpolls and 48 Boreal Chickadees banded, we recorded 86%, 70%, and 92% juveniles (hatch-year birds) respectively. This high level of recruitment (a sign of successful reproduction) might explain, at least in part, the high number of birds observed in Tadoussac dunes this year.

The Côte-Nord Migratory Bird Festival

The Birding Festival is always a big hit. Some of the crowd’s favorite acivities are maintained year after year, but we also like to offer something new each year.

In 2023, we highlighted our talented local artists and craftspeople. This was a huge success! We enjoyed a live music concert by “The Two Birdz“ an entertaining trivia game at Kiboikoi, a postcard making workshop with Dominique Dupuis, and a morning yoga session on the Tadoussac Dunes by ”Yoga avec Émilie”.

The Festival is an amazing opportinity to gather with friends, discover and be amazed by the natrual world around us. Thank you so much for exploring the region and its birds with us in 2023!

The next edition will take place from September 16 to 22, 2024.

Young ornithologist workshop

We were pleased to host 13 young birders this year from, coming from all over Quebec. 

This amazing and talented group of kids were extremely motivated to learn. It has been a real pleasure to guide them through the region. Despite some inclement weather, participants were able to explore key sites, observe new bird species, and learn more about bird handling and banding techniques.

Register for Summer 2024: https://www.qidigo.com/u/Explos-Nature/activity/6596/groups