Winter activities in Ottawa: Feeding the Birds at Mer Bleue

While Misty is dreaming up ways to make things feel a bit more winter-y I'm all for embracing the warmer temperatures and doing some of the outdoor things I usually avoid because I don't like being cold. 

This weekend I thought we would enjoy the lovely weather and get outside and we headed to Mer Bleue Boardwalk to see if we could find some chickadees to feed. Mer Bleue is a few minutes down Anderson Road from the 417 so it's a short drive from a lot of the city.

What to feed the birds

I'm no great expert on this but we stopped at bulk barn and for $2 or so of the wild bird seed I got enough seed that we could visit at least 5 more times without running out. Someone else who recently went to feed the birds said the birds seemed to love black sunflower seeds even more (and you can get that at bird shops). I stopped for coffee for myself on the way and asked for three small empty cups for the kids so they could each have something to carry a reasonable amount of seeds in on their own.

Where to find the birds

I've only done this a couple of times but here's what I've found to be key (please leave a comment if you have other/better ideas :).... listen for the chickadee dee dee noises... they tend to be close to treed areas, and then put some seeds in your flat hand and wait to see if they show up.

It's not very scientific, we found the birds in quite a few different places around the boardwalk, including in the tree right next to where we parked in the main parking lot. In fact, the most photos I got that I love were taken within 10 feet of my van!

I learned something pretty quickly with my three though. While the birds will land in a completely flat hand that isn't moving, the sensation of having a bird land on your hand is kind of strange and the kids didn't love it so much. My daughter dealt with it best. The boys each tried it once and then wouldn't try it again.

So what do you do instead?

Birdseed on the head! The birds happily landed on all three kids' hats within a few minutes of me putting some seed there.

Birdseed on hat works well. Beware the six year olds who will take off their hat and dump the seed directly into their hair.

Birdseed on hat works well. Beware the six year olds who will take off their hat and dump the seed directly into their hair.

Enjoy the Boardwalk

The Mer Bleue Boardwalk is a nice 1.2 km walk that is completely flat. The three kids (9, 6 and 6) made it the whole way without anyone trying to convince me to carry them or having to be left behind (at least not for long). It's beautiful, there's a self-directed tour if you're interested and if you're lucky your kids will pose for a few pictures for you.

If you're more of a winter person than I am, you can go and check this out once there's snow on the ground too!

There are so many great activities in Ottawa, leave us a comment and let us know where you like to go out and enjoy nature with the kids.