The Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station (TTPBRS) was established in 2003 to aid in the understanding and protection of birds and their habitats through monitoring, education and research.

Tommy Thompson Park (TTP) is recognized as a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International and its the Canadian partners for its significance to populations of nesting waterbirds and migratory species. The combination of an “urban wilderness” with internationally significant bird life and close proximity to a large city makes TTP an ideal venue for a permanent center for bird studies and education.

The TTPBRS is an initiative of Toronto and Region Conservation and is operated in partnership with The Living City Foundation.

graphic showing blue heron in wetland

What We Do

Why Monitor | Programs & Research | Report


Why Monitor Birds

Birds play an important role in our ecosystems. They pollinate plants, disperse seeds, eat insects and rodents, and are eaten by mammals and reptiles.

They are also indicator species: they are highly sensitive to environmental changes and hazards (think Canary in a coal mine) and can provide early warning that something is wrong. We get this warning by monitoring bird populations over time.

It’s best to undertake population counts when birds are breeding, but, many birds do so in faraway and remote locations. Fortunately, they migrate through accessible regions on the way to winter grounds. As such, we monitor migratory birds to track changes in their populations. Long-term monitoring and analysis guides regional, national and international environmental conservation efforts.

Did you know: Toronto is a migratory bird superhighway. Millions of birds migrate through the city spring and fall.

Did you know: Tommy Thompson Park is a globally significant Important Bird Area.  It is a critical stopover point for birds as they migrate over Lake Ontario between Toronto and New York State. 

Did you know: There are more than 10,000 species of birds around the world, all with different habitat needs?

Programs & Research

Many songbirds breed and winter in remote locations, making it difficult to measure their populations accurately. Therefore, we monitor birds during migration, as they travel through rural and urban areas between their end destinations. Migration monitoring consists of a daily census count and bird banding.

TTPBRS is a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, one of 26 stations across Canada that collect regular capture (banding) and observation data during spring and fall migration. We submit data to the national bird banding office where it adds to an international database. From there it contributes to reporting on North American bird populations and guides conservation efforts in the Western Hemisphere.

At Tommy Thompson Park we use the migration monitoring data to study stopover ecology and help plan our restoration and conservation projects. We have banded more than 70,000 birds at TTPBRS since opening in spring 2003!

We monitor breeding bird populations and their habitats at Tommy Thompson Park through the Breeding Bird Survey. We attempt to find all bird nests within the park and track their productivity during the summer months. Our historical breeding bird list now contains 70 species! The Breeding Bird Survey results also guide habitat restoration and ecological management at TTP.


Migration Monitoring at Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station



2012 Spring     2012 Fall




2008 Spring


2006 Spring     2006 Fall

2005 Spring     2005 Fall

2004 Spring     2004 Fall


The Breeding Birds of Tommy Thompson Park













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School Programs, Public Programs and Events


Educational programs at TTPBRS for local schools, the general public as well as student and professional ornithologists provide unique opportunities that are currently lacking in the Greater Toronto Area.

Elementary School Programs

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Post Secondary Opportunities

We offer post-secondary ornithology field trips. Please contact us to make arrangements.

Public Programs and Events

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Hours | Dates | Location

An aerial photograph of Tommy Thompson ParkVisitors are always welcome at the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station when Tommy Thompson Park is open!

Hours and Dates

Weekends and holidays from dawn to approximately noon: April 1 to June 9; August 5 to November 12


Did you know: We are only accessible by foot or bike. TTPBRS is approximately 2.5 kilometres from the parking lot.

Park rules: No dogs, no motorized vehicles.

graphic showing blue heron in wetland

Join & Support

Volunteer | Donate

ttp-ttpbrsusersYou can assist local bird conservation efforts by lending your support to the TTPBRS. The long-term operation of TTPBRS and the successful delivery of its programs are dependent on support from the local community. We need support in the form of volunteers and donors.


Volunteers lend valuable assistance to us and in return receive training and a rewarding experience with birds in the field. We typically have space for 20-30 volunteers per year although there are usually no more than 5 vacancies per year.

Volunteers help in many ways, including bird banding and surveys, nest searching, data management, habitat assessment, maintenance, administration and interpretive duties.

Training is provided to those selected as participants in any of our programs. Some of our volunteers who began their training at TTPBRS have gone on to work as biologists across North America including Ohio, British Columbia, Costa Rica and various locations in Ontario.

Since opening the research station we have received a high level of interest in volunteering for our monitoring programs, but unfortunately because space is limited we cannot provide opportunities for everyone in these programs. Applicants with suitable skills and a genuine passion for birds or intend to pursue a career in ornithology are given priority for participation in bird monitoring programs.

If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities please contact the TTPBRS Coordinator at

The TTPBRS is operated by TRCA through The Living City Foundation (formerly Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto).

The Living City Foundation is an independently-governed charitable organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the natural environment in the Toronto region. Donations to TTPBRS are gratefully received either on-site at the research station or online donation via the the Living City Foundation.