Point Pelee National Park is a national park located in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada where it extends into Lake Erie. The word pelée, is French for bald. Point Pelee consists of a peninsula of land, mainly of marsh and woodland habitats, that tapers to a sharp point as it extends into Lake Erie. Middle Island, also part of Point Pelee National Park, was acquired in 2000 and is located just north of the Canada–United States border in Lake Erie. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada, and is located on a foundation of glacial sand, silt and gravel that bites into Lake Erie. This spit of land is slightly more than seven kilometres long by 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) wide at its northern base.
Established in 1918, Point Pelee was the first national park in Canada to be established for conservation.
Point Pelee was made a national park in 1918 at the urging of birdwatchers and hunters. Commercial fishing continued in the park until 1969. Point Pelee was the only Canadian national park to allow hunting until duck hunting was ended in 1989. This site was named "Pointe-Pelée" (meaning "bald point" by French explorers because the eastern side was rocky and had no trees).
It forms the southernmost point in mainland Canada (its latitudinal position is the same as the northernmost counties of California) and is part of a bird and butterfly migration corridor over Lake Erie via Point Pelee and the Lake Erie islands. Over 360 bird species have been recorded in the park. The peak time for bird migration is spring, especially May, when tired migrants make first landfall after their journey north across the lake. Bird species include Cooper's hawk, painted bunting, and yellow warbler.
Many birdwatchers from North America and abroad visit the park in spring, often staying in the nearby town of Leamington. One attraction, apart from the sheer numbers and variety of bird passing through on migration, is the opportunity to see more northerly breeding species such as blackpoll warbler before they move on.