Wildlife of Niagara Falls

The Amazing Wildlife of Niagara Falls

Wildlife of Niagara Falls
Photo credit: Niagara Falls (Horseshoe Falls & American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls) (northwest of Buffalo, New York State, USA) 2 via photopin (license)

As a lifelong animal lover and avid hiker, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the wonderfully diverse wildlife around Niagara Falls over the past decade. From cute chickadees to soaring eagles, there’s an incredible array of species that call this region home. Join me as I share some of my personal encounters with the mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians that inhabit the lands and waters in the magnificent Niagara area.

The area around Niagara Falls is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Most people visiting the area see at least a few of these creatures during their tour.

Wildlife of Niagara Falls in details

The Niagara Escarpment

Apart from the falls themselves, the area is dominated by the Niagara Escarpment, a huge land ridge that reaches up to 1,675 feet in height and extends for 450 miles from Queenston to Tobermorey. This feature is a gift for anyone interested in wildlife and ecology as it offers visitors the chance to see the many bird species, as well as more than 50 different mammals, 30-plus types of lizard and many varieties of rare plants, including wild orchids.

It’s worth booking into a Niagara Falls hotel for a few days to fully explore the area. There’s the Beamer Conservation Area at Grimsby, the highest point of the escarpment and it’s here that people gather in spring to see the migration of hawks and eagles as they travel across Lake Ontario to gather in their summer nesting grounds.

I’ll never forget witnessing the annual eagle migration one sunny spring morning. As I craned my neck scanning the bright blue skies, they appeared – first one, then five, ten, twenty bald eagles gliding gracefully over the conservation area. Their white heads shone brightly in the sunlight as they rode the thermal winds. It was a breathtaking sight I’ll treasure forever.

Birds

Keen birdwatchers will be delighted to know that the Niagara region hosts more than 300 bird species. The more common varieties in the area include robins, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, woodpeckers, wrens, finches, Canada geese, thrushes and gulls. The cardinals and chickadees are there all year round, while rarer species like the swallow and the purple martin arrive in late spring and leave once more in autumn.

There are quite a few birds of prey in the region, too – red-tailed hawks, several species of owl, including the great horned owl (the largest in the region), sparrow hawks and turkey vultures. I’ll never forget the first time I spotted a great horned owl perched majestically on a tree branch near the falls. Its intense yellow eyes stared right at me before it spread its massive wings and took flight.

A frequent sight along the riverbanks is the great blue heron, and there are many more varieties of waterbird around Niagara, mostly ducks and mallards. It’s mesmerizing to watch groups of ducklings paddling along behind their mothers. The variety of vibrant plumage across male and female ducks never ceases to amaze me.

Mammals

Mammal fans won’t be disappointed either, as there are more than 50 species of mammal there. There’s squirrels, skunks and raccoons, as well as white-tailed deer, weasels, rabbits, red foxes and muskrats. Of course sightings aren’t guaranteed, but most walkers see something to remember. Black bears and mountain lions were once common in this region, but have been eradicated in recent decades.

While hiking along a wooded trail one fall afternoon, I was lucky enough to spot a red fox darting between the trees, its bushy tail floating behind. As I crouched silently, camera in hand, the curious creature paused to glance my way, giving me just enough time to capture a couple photos before bounding off into the brush.

Lizards and amphibians

The area around Niagara also boasts one of the largest and most varied populations of amphibians and reptiles. There are a few species of snake to be found in the area, in particular the common garter snake and milk snake. There used to be quite a few of the venomous timber rattlesnakes – dreaded by the locals – but they are believed to be extinct in this area as the last one was seen in 1959. Click here to read more about venomous snakes

Frogs and toads are a common sight, too, with bullfrogs and the American toad featuring in many a visitor’s photograph. If it’s a sunny day the turtles might come out to warm themselves up in their marsh homelands. The painted turtle and the snapping turtle also live in this region.

While pausing to take some photos of a spectacular rainbow over the waterfalls, I felt something brush my leg. I glanced down to see two painted turtles sunning themselves on a log near the river’s edge. One craned its long neck to peer up at me curiously while its friend continued basking, eyes closed and looking perfectly content. It was a charming encounter I’ll always remember fondly.

The magnificent Niagara region rewards visitors with opportunities to experience nature and wildlife in all its glory. I feel endlessly grateful for the many delightful creatures I’ve been fortunate enough to see over the years during my explorations of this incredibly biodiverse area. There’s always more to discover around the next bend!

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1216

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.