Birds of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is home to many species of birds migrating up and down the Pacific Coast. Often congregating in estuaries, the wide variety offers a splendid scene to those who are fascinated with the creatures that rule the air. Below we have listed many of the offshore and onshore marine birds.Some good places to bird watch include the Tofino Mudflats, Deep Bay Spit, Admirals Lagoon, Sidney Spit, Little Qualicum Estuary, Nanaimo Estuary, Somass Estuary, Englishman River Estuary and Courtenay Airpark. You can also see birds in many of the rocky and sandy beaches along each coast.

Bring your binoculars, camera, and an excellent field guide, because the treasures of nature on Vancouver Island are on display for everyone to see and witness.


Good places to bird watch:

South Island:

Sidney Spit
Goldstream Provicial Park


Cowichan Region:

Cowichan River Estuary
Chemainus River Estuary
Somenos Marsh Wildlife Park
Cowichan Bay Estuary (Dock Rd.)

Central Island:

Nanaimo Estuary
Englishman River Estuary
Deep Bay Spit: Winter and spring birding
Admirals Lagoon (close to French Creek—in between Parksville and Qualicum
Somass River Estuary


Pacific Rim

Tofino Mudflats
Chesterman Beach
Long Beach
Ucluelet Harbour
Tofino Harbour

North Central

Courtenay Airpark
Courtenay River Estuary
Trent River Estuary
Mittlenatch Island (accessable only by boat)
Campbell River Estuary
Goldstream River Estuary

North Island

Zebellos River Estuary
Quatse Estuary

Ducks, Geese, Swans

Vancouver Island has many diving birds and some of the best divers are ducks. Read More…

Sandpipers, Phalaropes

Sandpipers are a large group of shorebirds that are found all over the world that two subfamilies… Red More…


Common Loon

Pacific Loon

Red-throated Loon

Yellow-billed Loon

Horned Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Pied Billed Grebe

Western Grebe

Murres, Puffins

Ancient Murrelet

Marbled Murrelet

Tuffed Puffin

Pigeon Gullimont


Shearwaters are offshore birds that live over water for months at a time in both summer and winter depending on the migration pattern. Shearwaters can be mistaken for seagulls, but besides appearance have very little in common.

Pink-footed Shearwater

Short-tailed Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater


Brandt’s Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Avocets, Oyster Catcher, Herron

American Avocet

Oyster Catcher

Great Blue Herron

Belted Kingfisher and Bald Eagle

Belted Kingfisher

Bald Eagle



American Golden Plover

Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Plover

Gulls, Jaegers

California Gull

Heermann’s Gull

Herring Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

Mew Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Thayer’s Gull

Western Gull