The traditional and unceded shared territory of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Lilwat7úl (Lil’wat) Nations.

Regarded as one of the world’s best road trip routes, Highway 99 stretches 377 kilometers from the US border northeast to Cache Creek, BC. But it’s at the northern tip of Howe Sound, in view of the towering Stawamus Chief Mountain, that the Sea to Sky corridor of this coastal route earns its namesake.

As the Squamish River diverges from Howe Sound, the Sea to Sky Bird Trail begins in Squamish, an outdoors-lover’s paradise. From hiking to rafting to mountain biking, there’s plenty of fun to be found in nature. Of course, that also means lots of trails for birdwatching, too! Home to the recently-UNESCO-designated Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Reserve encompasses the fjord, its islands, and the extensive nature surrounding it, the region is a haven to those who love nature, and the many species who call it home.

Continuing north past Tantalus Lookout and Cheakamus Canyon, the globally-renowned chalet-style ski town of Whistler welcomes millions of visitors every year. With glaciated mountains at either side, it’s not hard to see why Whistler has been called the Valley of Dreams. The alpine home of countless bird species, including some higher-altitude specialties like Canada Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, and Ruffed & Sooty Grouse. Golden-eared visitors might also listen for the high pitched call of the local hoary marmot that gives Whistler its namesake.


Songbirds from afar join the resident chorus in spring. Wilson’s, Yellow, Orange-crowned, MacGillivray’s, and other warblers start showing up in March and April. Other passerines like Say’s Phoebe, Hammond’s Flycatcher, and Western & Eastern Kingbirds also show up for the season. Squamish River Estuary is wonderful all year, but spring and summer are especially active.

Sooty Grouse

Catch swallows galore over the water and fields! Barn, Tree, Violet-green, Bank, Cliff, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows can be found darting around, but you’ll have to be quick if you want a photo! Before you head out hiking on a sunny day, look up the sounds of a Ruffed Grouse – you could hear them making that thumping noise while you climb! Branches are nice and colourful for the season, too, with several warbler species, Western Tanagers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks providing a treat for the eyes and ears.

Sooty Grouse

As the weather cools, another round of migration brings birds like Western Meadowlarks, Northern Harriers, Pelagic & Double-crested Cormorants, and even the tiny but vicious Northern Shrike – a predatory songbird!

Sooty Grouse

The highlight of winter by far is the gathering of Bald Eagles around Brackendale. The area is home to one of the largest winter congregations of eagles in North America, with seasonal counts reaching into the thousands!

Sooty Grouse