Finding  Niagara's Purple Sandpipers

Looking for Purple Sandpipers is a tradition among birders watching gulls on the Niagara River. Purples can be difficult to find on the many rocks and ledges in the River. However, here's a spot where they are found regularly in winter. From the south side of the Toronto Power Generating Building above the Falls, find the famed wrecked barge and look right about 100 metres to the group of rocks in the photo above.

The barge was wrecked on 6 August 1918.


These are the Purple Sandpiper rocks. The Purples love these rocks, especially the smaller one left of the two larger flatter ones. We have best success finding them here when the control gates are open and there is a larger flow of water in the river, covering other rocks and ledges and reducing suitable habitat.


Be patient because they spend a lot of time on the other side where we can't see them. They also tuck into the right side of the smaller rock where it meets the large rock, and even rest on the vertical side of the large rock.


A good scope is needed to spot the Purples. You can even see the orange bill. Despite the distant view, we are all excited to see Purple Sandpipers in the turbulent swiftly-flowing Niagara River.