Despite the sub-zero temperatures, weather birders (bird watchers), have made their way to the falls to see the world’s largest gathering of gulls and other migrating birds. Most birders are headed to Dufferin Islands, the brink of the Falls at Table Rock and especially the power plants at Queenston. The power plants draw in water to power the Sir Adam Beck hydro stations. This creates chopped up fish, leaving ready-made meals that are attracting different kinds of gulls and rare birds.
The Niagara River corridor is an overwintering site for many northern species of gull and waterfowl, helping make it North America’s first designated important Bird Area. In 1996, the entire Niagara River corridor - stretching 56 kilometres from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario - became the first site in North America to receive international recognition as a “Globally Significant Important Bird Area” by major conservation groups in both Canada and the United States. Starting mid-November, the river comes alive with aerobatics of more than 100,000 gulls on migratory flights from as far north as Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, to as far south as Florida. One of the rarest species spotted at Dufferin Islands was a Ross’s Gull, which breed in the high Arctic and northeast Siberia.