American Black Oystercatcher, Gulf Islands, British Columbia
American Black Oystercatcher, Gulf Islands, British Columbia

Locals can usually always tell a first time visitor to the Gulf Islands. They’re the people who have stopped their cars and are staring in fascination at an eagle fishing in the lagoon, or the blue herons, still as marble, patiently watching the water.

Due to their location on the migratory path, the islands also are the temporary home to many other feathered travellers. The variety of fauna, from lagoons to lakes, to rivers to marsh, allow for the presence of a surprisingly variety of birds.

In addition, the Gulf Islands’ many ecological reserves and park lands help to preserve the habitat that many of these birds rely on. The rare Virginia Rale is now safe, for example, at Medicine Beach on North Pender, a protected ecological area of rare marshland.

Owls can sometimes be heard hooting in the night time forest. More commonly, watch for grebes, murrelets, auklets, loons, the beautiful hooded mergansers, thrushes, red breasted nuthatches and rufous sided towhees.

Many islands will provide you with a bird list to help you keep tally and check out your sightings. Check out the local shops when you arrive.