American Bittern. Photo © Christine Johnston

How to Visit

How to Visit Thunder Cape Bird Observatory

As part of its mandate, the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory is open to the public and welcomes those that are interested in learning more about avian ecology. Our season typically runs from late April to early June and from August 1 to October 30.

You do not need to call ahead.  Visitors are usually given a tour of the facilities and the operations.  There are some backcountry camping facilities for visitors.

Thunder Cape Bird Observatory is located at the southern tip of the Sibley Peninsula, at the foot of the Sleeping Giant. The location is visible from the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the western edge of Lake Superior. The bay separating the Giant from the City of Thunder Bay is also called Thunder Bay. Originally the site at Thunder Cape was occupied by a lighthouse and some outbuildings, but by the time the Bird Observatory came along, only a clearing and some foundations remained of the original structures.

Thunder Cape is situated in a fairly inaccessible location. The easiest way to get there is by boat (usually from Silver Islet) as long as the lake is not too rough. The other option is a 13 km long hiking trail from the Kabeyun Trail Head at Sibley Drive (Hwy. 587). You can ride a mountain bike as far as “The Chimney” at the Giant’s knees, but from there the trail is too rough for biking. In wet weather it may be too dangerous even for hiking. Trail improvements including the placement of trail markers were undertaken in the summer of 1996. Hikers, and indeed all visitors, are always made welcome at the Observatory. The Observatory owns a boat, which is used to bring supplies and volunteers out to the Cape from the closest road access at Silver Islet.

If you are interested in visiting, our trail map is a good place to start. You can download it here. It has been recently updated and is a good reference to use when planning your visit to Thunder Cape.

Location Map of Thunder Cape Bird Observatory