Summer is an active time for people – and birds too! While you’re out enjoying summer activities, keep an eye out for these birds. Some are seen throughout BC (or even in your backyard!), while others are specific to certain habitats. Grab your binoculars and a good field guide and see if you can spot these 9 birds in BC this summer!
1. Steller’s Jay
We have to start with BC’s provincial bird! This is a great time of year to see Steller’s Jays as they’re common campground visitors. Watch for their striking blue and black plumage as they hop along the ground – and try not to get too annoyed when they wake you up at 5 am! These birds can be found on any of the BC Bird Trails.
2. Turkey Vulture
Not only do we get vultures in BC, but we get a lot of them! Watch for large raptors soaring with wings raised slightly in a “V” shape as they glide on warm air. At the end of summer, keep an eye out for “kettling” as they circle in groups of dozens – or hundreds – before heading back south for the winter. You’re likely to see these vultures along all the BC Bird Trails in the summer months.
3. Cedar Waxwing
One of the most gorgeous birds in BC, you’ll probably hear them before you see them. Often seen higher up in trees or foraging on berries, their gradient plumage, red wingtips, and black mask make them worth searching for. While Cedar Waxwings can be seen across all the BC Bird Trails, try using the Merlin app for help identifying their calls if you suspect they are close by.
4. Canada Jay
If you’re doing some hiking and moving up in elevation, watch for the Canada Jay along the trails. This adorable bird is found in every province and territory and is usually very inquisitive. Birding spots along the Columbia Valley and Central Vancouver Island Bird Trails are great places to look out for them.
5. Purple Martin
Purple Martins are mostly found around the south coast of the province, along the Central Vancouver Island and South Fraser Bird Trails. These large swallows are an ongoing conservation success story. Several projects have worked to reintroduce Purple Martins to their previous habitats by installing nest boxes. If you see a group of numbered wooden boxes on posts around a dock, there’s a good chance there are Purple Martins nearby. Learn more about BC conservation efforts from the Western Purple Martin Foundation.
6. Lewis’s Woodpecker
A specialty bird of the Columbia Valley Bird Trail, watch for this woodpecker flycatching from trees as opposed to pecking at the bark for insects. The rosy breast helps identify it from other woodpeckers.
A beloved summer visitor throughout much of coastal and southern BC, the Osprey is usually found perched high near water or circling and diving for fish. Another spot you might see them is on the tall lights at sports fields – Ospreys have been known to favour them as nesting spots. Birding spots along all of the BC Bird Trails offer opportunities to see these birds in action.
Are you up for the challenge? Flycatchers are known to be tricky to identify. They can be quite plain looking and many of the species are so similar that even experienced birders can struggle. A common species to aim for is the Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Its teardrop-shaped white eyering is a good feature to look for when trying to identify between similar species like Hammond’s Flycatcher. Flycatchers of all varieties can be found along any of the BC Bird Trails.
9. American Robin
What? Such a common bird on a must-see list? Well, it’s good to take time to observe common species to get a better understanding of bird behaviour. Robins are quite active in the summer and you’ll often hear them being the first and last singing in the day. American Robins have fantastic eyesight, enabling them to be active in low light at dawn and dusk. Sometimes you’ll find the chorus of songbirds slows down at dusk, ending up being entirely replaced by a chorus of robins alone.
This list is just a suggestion of some fun birds to see this summer in BC. Of course, there are so many more that are waiting for you along the BC Bird Trail! Check out our self-guided itineraries to plan your next birding adventure. Share your pictures using the hashtag #BCBirdTrail on social media and let us know what birds you’ve seen this summer!