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'It’s a big time of year for us': Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island launches new birding pass

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Warmer weather means birdwatching season is here as the spring songbird migration gets underway across much of Windsor and Essex County.

Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) has launched a new WE Bird Trail digital pass that connects birders from near and far to various bird watching sites and nearly 50 bird-friendly certified businesses or locations across the region.

“We really evolved it this year to include a digital pass that brings in businesses who really wants to celebrate this season,” said TWEPI Vice President of Destination Development Lynnette Bain.

“These are businesses who may be connected to the birding interests somehow. They might offer early morning breakfasts and an early morning coffee or items that birders might be interested in and this is a way to engage those businesses,” Bain added.

Bain said tourism officials expect upwards of 50,000 bird watchers to flock to the region over the next several weeks, with popular bird-watching locations like Point Pelee National Park and Hillman Marsh Conservation Area attracting thousands of birds and binoculars.

Bain explained, “When you're out birding, you can stop, there's a map that will help guide you. You can plan a route and you can figure out where do I want to eat lunch, where do I want to shop, where can I can support these businesses that are bird friendly?”

Whether going on a guided walk or exploring on your own, Bain said there is something for everyone.

She continued, “So when you go for a day at Point Pelee National Park, you might see up to 100 different bird species in one visit. It's unbelievable. So you really want to go for that experience to get through interpretive services.”

Butch Demers at Pelee Wings Nature Store near Point Pelee National Park is seen on April 23, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

Bain noted when an out of town visitor comes to the area, they spend approximately $100 to $150 on a day trip, but that if they stay overnight, the amount spent nearly doubles.

“We're looking at bringing almost six million people this year to the region and birding is one of our top drivers,” Bain told CTV News Windsor. “So anything we can do to attract people from afar, that's why we have these types of programs.”

Business has already started to pick up according to staff at Pelee Wings Nature Store near Point Pelee National Park.

“We're seeing more people come in from Michigan. We're seeing people travel a lot more. It started already started a few weeks early, especially with the weather,” said co-owner Butch Demers. “Thousands of people come this way. All of the hotels are full. It's exciting for us. We have a great team here that are very, very knowledgeable.”

“It's a big time a year for us!” Demers continued. “A large percentage of our sales comes in late April and May especially around binoculars and scopes.”

Demers said their location offers a unique experience for bird watchers because of migration and the large number of species that come through the area, giving bird watchers a variety of birds to admire.

‘We think it's the best spot in Canada,” he said. 

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