As the BC Bird Trail expands throughout the province, we wanted to shine a light on the people on the ground in these communities. Learn more about the bird-watching experiences in these destinations through the eyes of the experienced locals with our BC Birders profile series.

Ceri Peacey is a birder from Central Vancouver Island.

Hamilton Marsh wetland and a new home on 37 acres opened Ceri’s life to the wonders and importance of the avian world. She learned about birds and migration, and that protecting the wetlands is vital to many birds’ survival. “It triggered a protective force in me,” she admits, “Hamilton Marsh has more than 120 bird species. I had no idea.”

Ceri walks her neighbourhood daily with a friend, looking out for birds like cedar waxwings and tanagers—sometimes in the early morning, other times in the afternoon. When the trumpeter swans, a favourite of hers, fly overhead, she waves to them. 

“You come to respect the distance the birds travel and the risks that they face. A migrating bird should be admired, respected, and given space.”  

Ceri Peacey

The Arrowsmith Naturalists based in Parksville are the local experts, and Ceri recommends that visitors and newbie birders connect with them.  Through this group, she learned about bird flu, killing off birds, and the perils of habitat loss. Ceri considers herself “not ‘officially’ a birder but in solidarity with them.” As such, she’s very locally active in habitat preservation efforts and education. Ceri’s pleased that birdwatching is cited as the fastest-growing pastime in Canada—more people birdwatch than garden!  

There are many solid spots to watch birds in the area, like the Englishman River Estuary, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, French Creek, and Parksville Community Park. Ceri has coordinated the Brant Wildlife Festival for the past five years. The Nature Trust of BC has been running this festival for 16 years However, in 2024, the festival was transferred to Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR). The festival honours Brant geese who travel from Mexico to Izembek Lagoon in Alaska. Timed with the geese’s return, the Brant Wildlife Festival seeks to “raise awareness for the biological diversity within the region and highlight the importance of protecting critical habitat and minimizing disturbance to wildlife.”  It attracts thousands of people of all ages and focuses on educating about conservation and celebrating the glory of nature.   

One of Ceri’s top spots to bird watch is relaxing in her living room, looking out the window. She has observed swallows, Stellar jays. robins, downy woodpeckers, and owls. She and her partner have bitter cherry trees that attract nuthatches and other birds. During the spring migration, she is “deafened by the birdsong. It’s so loud.” When she captures images of birds, Ceri uses a Canon S20D DSLR camera or her iPhone.

Ceri’s favourite bird is towhee because “they are hilarious.” She encourages people to connect with local bird and naturalist groups, learn about conservation, and help protect bird habitats wherever they live.