Point Traverse Lighthouse by Charlie Hastings
Point Traverse Lighthouse by Charlie Hastings

Our History

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) is located in the southeast corner of Prince Edward County.  The Observatory is situated on land belonging to the federal government, in the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS).

The Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) first recognized Long Point as an important staging area for migratory birds in the 1960s.  After some years of both casual and systematic visual studies, the KFN initiated a banding program from 1975 to 1983.  During this period 64,470 birds of 160 species were banded.  Later, Drs. Fred Cooke and Charles Francis, of Queen’s University at Kingston, conducted banding operations there focusing on migratory passerines.

The Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area came into being in the late 1970s when the CWS and KFN cooperated to acquire 560 ha near the tip of Long Point in Prince Edward County.  Brian Joyce and Eric Machell founded PEPtBO in 1995, thanks to funding from the James L. Baillie Fund, and through cooperation with the CWS.  Preliminary banding and migration monitoring began that spring.  Since then, PEPtBO has become one of the most successful permanent banding stations in Canada.

PEPtBO established a Board of Directors in 1998. Volunteers began assisting at the nets with bird extraction and scribing, allowing PEPtBO to run more nets for longer periods.

  • Also in 1998, Birdlife International and the Canadian Nature Federation (now Nature Canada) designated the Prince Edward County South Shore a Globally Important Bird Area (PECSSIBA). The designation was based on two factors: the numbers of three species of waterfowl around the Point each exceeded 1% of the world’s population for each species (i.e., Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter), and the huge numbers of migratory birds that pass through the area on route to their breeding sites in the Boreal Forest from their wintering areas in the southern USA, Mexico, and Central and South America.

  • In 1999, PEPtBO was incorporated in Ontario, and received charitable status as a scientific research station. The charitable status enables PEPtBO to receive donations and pursue funding that assists in covering the costs of the banding operations, of developing educational and outreach programs, and in maintaining the facilities.

  • The same year, PEPtBO became a full member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN).  This program of Bird Studies Canada (BSC) includes approximately 30 permanent monitoring stations across Canada operating near significant bird migration routes. Standardized banding and observation methods enable banding stations and BSC to identify significant changes, and their causes, in the demography of migratory birds.

  • An Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant in 2001 enabled PEPtBO to make a move toward sustainability.  We hired a full-time Station Manager and Bander-in-charge (BIC), allowing us to expand our migration monitoring protocols to include a fall banding program of passerines, raptors and owls, specifically the Northern Saw-whet Owl. Also, a long-term renewable lease agreement was established with the CWS

  • With a permanent full-time Bander-in-charge and a full migration monitoring programme, PEPtBO began to offer younger, less experienced banders from all over the world, the opportunity to spend time at the Observatory to assist the BIC and to hone their identification and banding skills. Many young people working in the field today here in Canada and in countries abroad, trained at PEPtBO.

    PEPtBO has also welcomed numerous visiting banders from other cities, provinces and countries, keen to become more familiar with the North American species that migrate through Prince Edward Point.

  • We are proud to say that PEPtBO is now  one of the busiest and most productive stations within the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network.