Who We Are
Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO) is an internationally recognized NGO devoted to the study and observation of migratory birds and the preservation of their natural habitats on Pelee Island. PIBO was founded in 2004 after a migration-monitoring pilot study at Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve documented 192 species, and 3,450 birds were banded.
Located at the western end of Lake Erie, Pelee Island is the most southerly inhabited land mass in Canada. It is also a vital bird migration stepping-stone, set midway between Ohio to the south and Ontario to the north. Each spring and fall, thousands of birds land at one end of the 42-square-kilometre island, feeding and resting as they make their way along its length until they take off to continue their journey across the lake.
As a result of its location and its range of habitats—coastal sand dunes, wetlands, lakes, freshwater marsh, abandoned and fallow farmland, savanna, limestone alvars, and Carolinan deciduous forest—Pelee Island is rich in both migratory and resident birds: a total of 314 species have now been recorded, and more than 150 species have been spotted in a single day during spring and fall migration.
The Canadian Nature Federation and Bird Studies Canada have designated Pelee Island an Important Bird Area (IBA), which they define as “truly outstanding sites of significance nationally or internationally… that are exceptionally important for birds.”
What We Do
Since 2004, PIBO has vastly increased knowledge of migrating and resident Pelee Island birds. Each year from April to November, our staff conducts intensive migration-monitoring research and breeding-bird studies on Pelee Island, as well as a daily dawn-walk bird count. And we don’t only study birds: we also conduct dragonfly counts and monitor the annual migration of Ontario’s monarch butterflies on their way to the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico.
Each year we conduct as many as a dozen research projects, including Sawhet owl and Prothonotary warbler monitoring. PIBO’s banding station in Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve is open to the public and to school groups in the spring and fall. Since its inception, PIBO has banded and recorded the vital statistics of more than 50,000 birds.
We also conduct extensive outreach programs, such as Backpacks for Birding, which donates backpacks filled with binoculars and bird guides to libraries in the Windsor area, including local Indigenous resource centres and facilities for medically challenged children. We are advocating for Windsor to become an official Bird Friendly City, and in 2022, inaugurated The Graeme Gibson Prismáticos Project , which collects well-loved binoculars in Canada for distribution to schools and conservationists in Mexico.
Education has always been part of PIBO’s mandate. We developed a permanent bird display at the Pelee Island Heritage Centre and education programs that have reached thousands of school children throughout southwestern Ontario. Our 15-minute educational videos about bird migration, bird banding, conservation, and species at risk continues to open children to birdlife—work that was recognized by a Conservation Award for Environmental Education in Essex County.