Where to Feed Chickadees in Ottawa

Chickadees at Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa conservation, Ottawa photographer
Photo by Pat Burilli @patburilliphotos

Those of us who live in Ottawa are lucky to have the trails of the Greenbelt, and the diverse wild life found within the area. I recall my first instance of spotting the little chickadee birds on a local trail (I have a fear of birds, and the moment really stuck out for me). Small bird houses and feeders were scattered along the Jack Pine Trail as I hiked the Stony Swamp Conservation, with bird seed remnants on the forest floor. Then I passed a young girl with her mom, hands full of bird seed and the chickadees feeding directly from her hands.
Fast forward about a year, and multiple chickadee feeding sightings later, a friend finally convinced me to try it myself. Sure, I flinched, but the feeling of the beautiful birds’ little talons hanging on to my fingers as they ate seed from my hand, was a cool experience I wanted to replicate. So, I did it again on a different trail! The winter is also a great time to feed them, as food is harder to come by during these months.
Here are the main trails in Ottawa where you can feed the chickadees.



Stony Swamp Conservation

The Stony Swamp Conservation area is the most ecologically diverse protected area in the Ottawa Valley. It is located in Ottawa’s west end and has over 40 kilometres of trails. You can feed the chickadees in the majority of these trail systems, with the majority of trailheads located off of Moodie Drive and Old Richmond Road.

Feeding chickadee birds in Stony Swamp Conservation Area Ottawa Ontario Trails


Here are the most notable bird-feeding trails in Stony Swamp:

  • Jack Pine Trail

    This easy walking trail has three trail loops (0.7 km, 1.7km and 2.3km in length). There is an outhouse washroom and a picnic area near the parking lot. You will spot bird feeders and houses along the trail.
  • Sarsaparilla Trail

    This short and easy walking loop is 0.8km in length, with a boardwalk dock that extends onto a beaver pond.

  • Beaver Trail

    This easy trail has multiple loop systems, starting as short at 0.6km. It is also the location of the Wild Bird Care Centre. If you want to turn this hike into a longer one, connect to the Chipmunk trail, part of the Lime Kiln trail and crossing the road to the Jack Pine trail for a 6.7km loop.

    You will also find the Stony Swamp trail and Old Quarry trail nearby. Outhouses are available in the parking lots: P5, P7, P8, P9, P11 and P12. 


Mud Lake Conservation

Mud Lake trail is a 2.4 KM loop, featuring a diverse range of animal and plant species. You can also shorten the hike from multiple exit points along the Ottawa River Pathway. There is a boardwalk lookout overlooking Mud Lake, where you will often find ducks in the warmer months, and possibly ice skaters in the winter. (Don’t skate unless you know the conditions of the lake/ice and it is safe).  

Be mindful and considerate of the locals when parking, as there is no set parking lot. The majority of visitors park along Cassels Street.


Feeding birds in Mud Lake Conservation Trail, Ottawa Adventures


Mer Bleue Bog

A part of Ottawa’s Greenbelt, located in Ottawa’s east end, Mer Bleue is an important wetland and the largest bog in the Capital Region. There are picnic areas, and outhouses located in the parking lots P20, P21, P22 and P23.

The most popular (and busiest) trail is the Mer Bleue Bog Trail (P22), that includes an accessible boardwalk. You will also find the Dewberry Trail nearby, or can follow Trail 50 connecting Dewberry and the Mer Bleue Bog trails, for a 6.3 KM hike.

Feeding chickadees /birds in Ottawa Ontario, Ottawa Photo at Mer Bleue Bog
Photo by Pat Burilli @patburilliphotos


Shirley’s Bay

The Shirley’s Bay Loop trail (Trail 10) is a 4 KM walking path, with changing forest scenery and beautiful views of the Ottawa River. Parking for this trail is located at P2. Alternatively, you can park at P3, following trail 12, for a 2.7 KM trail. If you’re looking for a place to simply take in the river views and perhaps bring your canoe, park at P1.

The chickadees in Shirley’s Bay area are less obvious to spot and a bit ‘shy’, therefore it takes more patience to feed them. If you’re planning to feed the birds with children, I recommend one of the other trails mentioned.


TIPS: Only feed the song birds. Ensure that seeds are unsalted, and bring any extra home with you. Don't feed them bread - it doesn't provide the birds with nutrients they need.



Check out similar blog posts:

Visitor's Guide to Winter in Ottawa

Hiking Eagles Nest, Calabogie

Favourite Hikes in Gatineau Park


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