Have you ever considered British Columbia for your next birding destination? If not, you might miss out on some of the best birdwatching in Canada. We’re here to let you know why British Columbia should be on your birding bucket list. Here are 5 reasons to go birdwatching in BC!
British Columbia is a temperate retreat for many seeking to escape the cold winters of their home (this goes for humans and birds!). Most of the province enjoys relatively mild weather throughout the year, but there are some regions that definitely get hotter and/or colder climates.
No matter the season, there is somewhere in BC to enjoy birding. Summers are great along the coast of Vancouver Island, as the weather is cooler than the interior. Autumn and spring birding can be enjoyed nearly anywhere in the province in comfort. Winter is usually mild and rainy closer to the coast, but if you’re looking for snowy winter birding, head to the mountains of the Columbia Valley.
2. Convenient Location
There are plenty of birding hot spots close to the Alberta border, meaning a birding trip to see different species isn’t too much of a trek. Check out our BC Birding Adventures from Calgary blog to learn more about what to expect coming from Calgary. If you’re from the US, birding is just a quick jaunt over the border, not to mention the usually-favourable exchange rate!
Vancouver is a major international airport for anyone looking to fly into British Columbia. It is also just north of some amazing birding in Richmond, along the South Fraser Bird Trail. You can check out more birding opportunities from Vancouver in our previous blog, Birding Adventures From Vancouver.
3. Varied Habitats, Lots of Birds
British Columbia is incredibly diverse in terms of bird habitats. Coastal, pelagic, alpine, forest, desert, estuary, and much more! This means the diversity of birds is also quite high. BC has noted over 500 different species of birds that breed in the province and 76% of Canada’s bird species are found in BC. There are also many Important Bird Areas (IBA) in BC that support specific groups of birds and work to preserve their habitats. On the BC Bird Trail, the Cowichan Estuary and Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge are some IBAs worth checking out.
4. Scenery and Culture
British Columbia is known as a super, natural destination. Larger cities such as Vancouver and Victoria offer all the amenities of a world-class city; a variety of accommodations, unique food, and lots of museums, art galleries, and ways to explore local cultures. Many other cities on the BC Bird Trail offer the perfect mix of amenities and small-town charm, while often being right next to pristine nature. Even if birding is your main focus for traveling to BC, get the most of your trip and explore the rich culture, urban centres, and limitless wild spaces. You can also learn about the region’s Indigenous history and culture by visiting museums and interpretive centres, and attending guided tours.
Discover the BC Effect with Hello BC. Explore like a local and visit places that inspire purpose and connection.
5. The Pacific Flyway & Migration
During fall and spring migrations, many marine ecosystems along BC’s coastal regions become rife with bird activity. The Pacific Flyway is a busy north-south migratory bird route spanning from Alaska all the way to Patagonia in southern South America. Being an important part of this route means many birds stopover for short or long periods of time all over the province. It’s a great opportunity to see special bird species that make the long journey. The Fraser River Delta is an important wintering spot for many waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey. On the Central Vancouver Island Bird Trail, spring migration means the arrival of the Brant geese to Parksville-Qualicum Beach. Species like the horned grebe like to spend their breeding season in the protected wetland areas of the Columbia Valley.
We hope you’ll consider British Columbia for your next birdwatching destination. It’s even easier to plan with our self-guided itineraries. Discover communities across the province, suggestions on where to eat, where to stay, and more importantly, where to bird! Have fun out there and remember to Look Up and Stay Grounded.