The Pelee Island Bird Observatory is a non-profit charitable organisation devoted to the study and conservation of birds. The observatory conducts intensive migration-monitoring research and breeding bird studies on Pelee Island from April to November. PIBO’s field station at Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve is open to the public in the spring and autumn, with educational programs provided to visiting school groups throughout the month of May.

PIBO’s purpose is to collect and disseminate data that will help the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network that is working to understand changes taking place in the populations of migratory birds. While this is our work and our responsibility, we recognize that birds exist in a wide range of cultural and imaginative contexts, as well as in specifically scientific ones. To that end, we are introducing a number of satellite areas, with the hope this site will be of interest both to serious birders and to general enthusiasts alike.

PIBO is a non-profit organization supported by grants, donations, and partnerships. PIBO’s small organisational structure and our low overhead expenses allow for almost eighty percent of the funds raised by the observatory to go directly to cover the operational costs of the field research, which includes our educational programs. In this respect, PIBO supporters can be confident that their dollars are being well spent. Donors will receive a tax receipt for their contributions.


The PIBO Team

Suzanne Friemann – Executive Director

Sumiko Onishi – Field Supervisor/Bander in Charge

Mary-Jo Rusu – Education Coordinator

Sachi Schott – Assistant Field Biologist

Founder: Graeme Gibson the Younger


The PIBO Board

Matthew Gibson (Co-Chair)

John Gruetzner (Co-Chair)

Graeme Gibson, Elder (Chair Emeritus)

Wayne Grady

Dona Hayes

Penny Kavanaugh

Margaret Atwood

Merilyn Simonds


Advisors to the Board

Philip Slayton

Staff Bios

Suzanne Friemann, Executive Director of Pelee Island Bird Observatory

My present role at PIBO involves many different aspects, from day to day administrative tasks, HR, bookkeeping, event planning, staff relations, public relations and communications to program coordination and fundraising. What I most enjoy in my role at PIBO is seeing a real difference in bird conservation from our research and education programs.  Having not moved my career in a linear fashion from point A to B, I have been fortunate to gain many skills in various fields. However, the thread the ties all my different positions together is my passion for environmental change, positive movements in the social justice field, a vibrant arts community and good food! These are the causes I champion and have accepted positions that have allowed me to contribute. Some of my successes are measured in terms of fundraising, successful grant applications and others in the projects and programs with which I have worked. Idle-Free Windsor with the Citizens Environment Alliance, a re-vamped and successful education program with PIBO as well as the many events I have helped to plan- The PIBO author’s dinner, The Wild Bird Ball and Music and Migration are just a few. Other successes are on more human terms- all the enthusiastic research staff that I have had the pleasure to work with, the dedicated members of the boards I have collaborated with, the many Canadian authors I have been honoured to meet and the growing environmental community in Southwestern Ontario. Perhaps my most unique trait is not being intimidated by famous people. I have met a few, and I am happy to say I am usually not tongue-tied but rather treat them with respect and consideration. When not at work, you can find me getting my hands dirty in my woodland, urban garden, perusing used bookstores to add to my growing book collection or cooking up a storm!

Sachiko L. Schott graduated with a B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Guelph, and has since worked as a field ornithologist in Oregon, North Carolina, West Virginia, British Columbia, and Ontario. She began birding in 2007, a hobby that not only influenced her current career path but also reawakened an interest in painting, drawing, and embroidery. Her other hobbies include taxidermy, and some of her work is on display in PIBO’s exhibit ‘Birds and Species at Risk’ in the Pelee Island Heritage Center.

I visited PIBO’s banding station as a volunteer in the summer of 2006, which was the hottest and buggiest season I ever have experienced in Canada since I have been here!  In 2011, I started working for PIBO and spent more than 5000 hours in the field. After observing bird migration for thirteen years on the island, my passion to see the phenomenal bird activity is still strong. Currently I am an island resident and have much appreciation for this small community. I have lots of support from my friends and am happy to help other people as well. It has been a pleasure to meet many young people, students, and elders, and to spend time chatting about birds and nature at our small bird banding station in the forest.  Along with my favourite hobby, birdwatching, I also enjoy drawing birds, butterflies and the varied landscape that I love to see on the island.

Mary-Jo Rusu is a creative educator and writer. Prior to becoming an employee of PIBO, she had partnered with us to develop inspiring education projects connecting international students in China to PIBO’s mission to help the birds.  Mary-Jo looks forward to assisting others in building lifelong connections to the wonders of birds and their relationships to our ecosystem, as well as, fostering habitat creation efforts.

Our Mandate

Long-term migration monitoring research on Pelee Island as a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN).

Long-term studies of Pelee’s significant breeding bird communities.

To serve as an educational centre for the public, school organisations and the community, and to promote volunteer participation in local conservation projects.

To highlight the importance of Pelee Island’s unique natural heritage.


Our Location

Pelee Island is located in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

Situated in the western third of Lake Erie – Pelee Island is the most southerly-inhabited landmass in Canada and the largest island in the Pelee Island archipelago (4000 ha). Pelee lies between Leamington, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie, and Sandusky, Ohio to the south. The island is located just ten kilometres southwest of the tip of Point Pelee National Park. Approximately three hundred year-round residents live on Pelee and 1200 seasonal residents and visitors call the island home during the summer months.

Pelee Island is designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Canadian partners of BirdLife International – the Canadian Nature Federation and Bird Studies Canada. IBA’s are described as “truly outstanding sites of significance nationally or internationally, and sites that are exceptionally important for birds”.

Visit our links section to learn more about Pelee Island’s fascinating human and natural history, as well as to find out about visiting the island, including “how to get here”, island accommodations, things to do on your visit, and other island news.


Links to Our Friends & Partners

Municipality of Pelee Island

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island

Canadian Migration Monitoring Network

Ontario Bird Banding Association

Bird Studies Canada

Pelee Island Heritage Centre

Explore Pelee

Essex Region Conservation Authority

Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club

Pelee Wings Nature Store

Point Pelee National Park

Avibase – The World Bird Database

Searchable Ornithological Research Archive (SORA)

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre

Ojibway Nature Centre

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Ontario Parks

Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation

Chatham-Kent Tourism

Municipality of Leamington

Nature Canada (Cats and Birds)

Our Sponsors

Aaron Weir

Anna Porter

Balzac’s Coffee Ltd

Bank of Montreal

Bird Studies Canada

Catherine Prowse

Chandisherry Foundation

Cineplex Entertainment Inc.

Colleen Peddie

Conrad Black

Donna Hayes

Eleanor Cook

Graeme Gibson, Elder

Halight Ltd

Jacob Yerex

Janet Graybiel

John Fairley

John Gruetzner

Jonathan Rodzik

Keri Levinsky

Labatt Brewing Co Ltd.

Lush Cosmetics

Lynn Baker

Margaret Atwood

Martin Kuhn

Matthew Gibson

Michael de Pencier

Mr. and Mrs. Delaney

Nancy Lockhart

Owen Deutsch Trust

Palimpset Press

Pat Marshall

Patricia Toal

Patrick Allen Martin

Paul Maranger

Penguin Random House

Penny Kavanaugh

Peter and Denise Hrastovec

Phamous Characters Inc.

Philip Dyke

Philip Slayton

Phyllis McCrae

R.O. White Consultants Inc.

Renee Trombley

Richard Woodruff

Rod Bell

Rosamond Ivey

Sandy Bourque

Scotia Bank

Sheila Gregory

Shibley Righton

Sumiko Onishi

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

The Anthropocene Project Ltd

University of Windsor

Wayne Grady

Weir Foulds LLP

A sincere thank you as well to our many individual donors, especially those who attended the Windsor and Toronto dinners, friends, supporters, partners, and PIBO’s hard-working volunteers!