Birdwatching in Canada
Birds are all around us. Whether you live in a crowded city or in the middle of nowhere, chances are that you see those feathered creatures every day. It could be the pigeons roosting in your rain gutters. It could be that majestic bald eagles soar thousands of meters above up high. Or the curious and friendly black-capped chickadee that you spot on a walk through a wooded area. Most of us barely notice the wealth of diversity cruising around above our heads. Those who do take a moment of stillness to observe the world of birds are rewarded tenfold.
The world of birds is both fascinating and complex. Generally, we think of birds as belonging to the area where we spot them. Some do, but for many, the story is much more complicated. According to the Audubon Society, around 4,000 birds migrate each year. That is around 40% of the known bird species on earth! Some travel great distances, like the Northern Wheatear who makes a trip of up to 14,000 km from the Arctic to Africa.
Birds and their flight patterns can tell us a lot about our environment on a global scale. They can be important indicators of changing weather and climate patterns. Birds are important members of the predator/prey balance. They also act as nature’s seed sowers, doing the important work of moving plants and seeds around as they travel.
Canada’s vast and awe-inspiring landscapes make it an ideal destination for birdwatching holidays. The world’s second-largest country is equipped with strong tourism infrastructure, diverse bird habitats, and more surface water than any other country on earth. Canada is home to around 640 species of bird, including its migratory visitors. The best time of year for birdwatching is typically during migratory or mating seasons. If you are planning to come birdwatching in Canada, we recommend you plan your trip around these two important seasons. North-bound migration falls in mid-April to mid-May, and the breeding season falls late-May to early-July. Finally, the south-bound migration runs from mid-July to October.
Before you go, take some time to do your research so that you can make the most of your birdwatching holiday! Plan your route and study the terrain. Create a “hit list” of birds you are hoping to spot and where you might see them within the territory you are planning to cover. Conduct internet research and reach out to local birding groups. Keep an eye open for existing birding infrastructure and take advantage! Make sure to check the weather and pack accordingly. Take care when you visit natural environments to practice “leave no trace” techniques to preserve bird habitats. Finally, be safe and have fun!
There are great bird watching destinations from coast to coast of this tremendous nation. Below we have listed a couple of our top destinations. Although, there are a million more that didn’t make the list because birds are everywhere! Whether it is your goal to spot migratory species or natives, Canada has something for you. Canadian birding also offers the opportunity to visit rugged mountains, forested islands, and handsome saltwater inlets. Pick your fancy!
With the nation’s longest list of bird species, British Columbia is a popular destination for birdwatching in Canada. Encompassing ten distinct ecoregions, there is a lot to see! For the most part, British Columbia is geographically isolated from the east by the Northern Rocky Mountains. This offers the unique opportunity to see many bird species that are rare in the rest of the country.
Tofino, on the west coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, is a hot spot to glimpse migratory species passing through. This peninsula is located on the Pacific Fly Way. The Fly Way is an important north-south bird migration route, spanning from Patagonia to Alaska. Tofino is also a popular over-wintering destination, for many species of birds. This means that it is an ideal location for birds to pass the colder months. It has gained extra popularity as a bird-watching destination because of the 2011 box office comedy, The Big Year. Despite mixed reviews, this film is certainly Hollywood’s most notable nod to the world of birding.
New Brunswick, with its extensive salt and freshwater marshes and intertidal flats, attracts many migratory waterbirds. This destination where the land meets the sea is full of nutrient-rich and protected habitat, ideal for bird breeding. This small province boasts an impressive list of species diversity. Bird varieties include birds of prey, majestic bald eagles, and peregrine falcons, as well as seabirds such as terns and guillemots. In total, there are around 400 distinct species of bird that visitors to this province can hope to spot.
New Brunswick is also home to the historic town of Saint John on the banks of the Bay of Fundy. This is an impressive natural resource of a distinct variety. Home to the highest tides in the world, the Bay of Fundy is a verified bird playground. Birdwatchers in New Brunswick had best make plans to get out on the water to see what species they can spot. One way to do this is by reserving a spot on one of See Sight Jetboats Tours of the Bay. Come in late-July through late-September to catch the peak of the shorebird migration season. You might see any variety of sandpipers, dowitchers, starlings, yellowlegs, or plovers.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The world’s 16th largest island is home to a wide variety of seabirds! This location is considered far north and considered chilly by most humans. There are many Arctic birds that fly south to overwinter in the ice-free waters of this Canadian province. The nutrient and plankton-rich waters surrounding the island make it an attractive destination. It’s not only Arctic birds who find shelter at this outpost, but birds from all over. The Arctic Terns make their way up from the southern hemisphere to rest here.
Whether you are a seasoned birdwatcher or new to the game of observation, Canada is an ideal destination for you. Come explore the wealth of bird diversity that this Nation has to offer. Discover the world of birds that is all around us!