We recognize the City of Vernon is located in the traditional territory of the Syilx people of the Okanagan Nation.

Vernon, a charming city in the Okanagan, offers an enticing birdwatching experience. Set against a backdrop of diverse ecosystems including lakeshores, wetlands, riversides, and picturesque meadows, Vernon presents a myriad of birding hotspots. From the serene lakeshores of Kalamalka Lake to the tranquil woodlands of Silver Star Mountain, the region provides a habitat for a wide variety of avian species.

 

Complementing the birding experience, Vernon showcases an array of local dining, cultural events, independent cafes, and scenic vistas. Birders can chart their path through the areas, embracing the dynamic birdwatching opportunities that Vernon holds.

 

This itinerary guides you through Vernon’s unique pockets, allowing you to uncover hidden treasures. Whether observing waterfowl by the serene lakeshores or exploring the verdant trails of its meadows, each moment becomes an opportunity to forge a deeper connection with nature’s wonders.

Spring birding in Vernon

Spring in Vernon is an exciting time for birding, as flowers bloom, year-round residents become more active, and migratory birds return. Keep an eye out for California Quails, bobbing along trails, and it’s hard not to spot cheeky Black-billed Magpies. The air will be filled with the songs of Yellow and Nashville Warblers. In wetlands, watch for American Wigeons and Buffleheads.. Vernon’s rich birdlife promises exciting encounters with these and other species as Spring unfolds.

Summer birding in Vernon

Vernon in the Summer offers beautiful weather and great birdwatching experiences. Keep an eye out for the striking Lazuli Buntings, their vivid blue plumage contrasting with the green surroundings. Listen for the cheerful songs of the Yellow Warblers in the riparian areas. Along the lakeshores, you might spot Ospreys soaring overhead and agile Tree Swallows swooping down catching flies. Western Wood-Pewees and Say’s Phoebes are exciting spots up in the canopies. Vernon in the summer offers a beautiful getaway and brilliant birdwatching opportunities.

Fall birding in Vernon

Fall in Vernon provides rewarding birdwatching opportunities as migratory birds make their stopover. Keep your binoculars ready for Northern Pintails and American Wigeons on the waterways. Scan the shrubs and trees for Townsend’s Solitaires and the Townsend’s Warblers. Listen for the calls of the White-crowned Sparrows and American Goldfinches. Vernon’s varied landscapes offer numerous opportunities to witness these and other migratory species during their seasonal travels.

Winter birding in Vernon

Winter birdwatching in Vernon can be an interesting time in the colder landscape. While some birds have migrated south, the region still hosts a variety year-round residents. Look for American Coots and if you’re lucky, a Trumpeter Swan, a sometimes visitor to the region. In the forests, listen for the tapping of Downy Woodpeckers and the squeaks of Red-breasted Nuthatches. And be sure to protect your snacks from sneaky Clark’s Nutcrackers, an opportunistic resident of many parks and forests.

Exploring North to Swan Lake

Begin your North Okanagan journey with coffee at one of Vernon’s excellent café’s before heading out of the city to the exceptional Swan Lake Nature Reserve & Trails. As you explore the Trails Capital of BC, enjoy the diverse ecosystems and the number of different wildlife that can be spotted throughout the region.

 

Nesting Great Blue Heron at the Vernon Heronry
 Birding
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    Swan Lake Nature Reserve & Trails
    North Okanagan, BC V1H 1P7

    Visitors to the nature reserve can expect to find a 1.8km trail along the shoreline of Swan Lake along with a 3-storey wildlife observation tower, perfect for setting up your scope and searching for waterfowl on the lake. Swan Lake is a breeding, nesting and migration haven for a number of species of ducks, waterfowl and marsh birds. Migrants, such as the American Pelican and Trumpeter swan, pass through in the spring and fall and the surrounding grasslands are home to a number of small mammals and reptiles, drawing in Birds of Prey year-round. You can also expect to find Great Blue Herons from the nearby rookery making their way to feed in this fertile habitat.

The observation tower at Swan Lake Nature Reserve & Trails
 Birding
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    The Heronry

    Amongst the cottonwoods in a delicate urban location lies this carefully conserved Heronry. Due to the importance of the cottonwood habitat to the Herons, the area is federally protected and entrance is strictly prohibited to ensure minimal disturbance. It is still worth a visit to the area however, as the vantage point from the surrounding sidewalks allows for great views of nesting herons. Visit in March to experience the height of activity as the birds return to the area for the season and establish their nests, while later visitors may have a chance to see young in the nests. Please follow all posted signage and do not enter the restricted areas under any circumstances. 

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    Cools Pond
    6440 L & a Rd, Vernon, BC V1B 3T8

    This birding hotspot features a multi-use pathway and a covered viewing platform looking out over the pond. Visitors can expect to find waterfowl and shorebird species in the water, although it is not uncommon to see raptors, passerines and woodpeckers passing through. Over 120 species have been observed in this area throughout the year.

     

A Tree Swallow in Vernon
 Cafe
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    Bean to Cup
    3903 27 St, Vernon, BC V1T 4X8

    A heritage cafe serving up delicious homemade food in a welcoming and cozy atmosphere. They have an extensive selection of breakfast and lunch options, making Bean to Cup the perfect place to fuel up before a day of birding.

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    Bean Scene
    2921 30th Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 2B8

    Specializing in darker roast “Bean Around the World” Coffee, this unique coffee house serves up a fantastic cup of coffee and a whole lot of atmosphere. This community hub prides itself on its support of the local artisan community, be sure to stop by and admire this month’s featured art adorning the walls.

 Food
Exploring the trails at Swan Lake Nature Reserve & Trails
 Food
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    Eatology
    3100 30 St, Vernon, BC V1T 5E2

    Prioritizing prompt service, fresh, vibrant and mouth watering dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, you are in for a treat dining at Eatology. Their bright and eclectic environment welcomes you for a simple cup of coffee or a serious pulled pork sandwich; either way you’ll leave happy you visited.

Reviewing the days sightings at a local eatery.
 Food
 Shopping
Interpretive signage at Swan lake Nature Reserve & Trails
 Accommodations
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    Prestige Hotel Vernon
    4411 32 St, Vernon, BC V1T 9G8

    A conveniently located, full-service accommodation, the Prestige Hotel is an excellent choice for an enjoyable night’s stay. With an on-site restaurant, indoor pool and hottub, coming back to the Prestige after a day of exploring promises a warm welcome.

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    Holiday Inn Express & Suites Vernon
    4716 34 St, Vernon, BC V1T 5Y9

    The perfect blend of convenient location and great value, at the Holiday Inn you will have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Offering a free hot breakfast, pet friendly suites and a pool, the welcoming staff will ensure your experience is enjoyable.

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A Bald Eagle nest in Vernon.
 Accommodations

Exploring the renowned Kalamalka Lake

Today finds you heading to the southeast of the city as you make your way towards the colour changing waters of Kalamalka Lake. One of only a handful of Marl Lakes, Kalamalka Lake’s surface can appear turquoise, cyan or a deep indigo depending on the conditions. Along the way, you will pass birding hotspots, serene beaches, towering bluffs and forests that play host to a variety of wildlife. With trails available for all levels of adventure seekers, options abound as you enjoy the stunning surroundings.

 

Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
 Birding
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    Polson Park Trail
    2600 BC-6, Vernon, BC V1T 2Y5

    More than just an urban greenspace,  Polson Park is host to the Community Arts Centre – a great stop for locally sourced gifts – and the Polson Artisan Night Market on Fridays in the Summer. For some excellent urban bird watching, head to the southeast of the park where the trailhead for the Polson Park Trail is located. Leave the hustle of the city behind as you make your way down the boardwalk, shaded by the trees from the heat of the day. An excellent place for wildlife, be sure to take your time and scan the creek while keeping your ears tuned for the sounds of passing songbirds. 

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    Middleton Mountain and McKergow Meadows
    6PQX+9G, Coldstream, BC V1B 3Z6

    The Middleton Mountain trail network zig-zags its way up the mountain from the surrounding suburban environment rewarding the ambitious with panoramic views at the top of the steep climb. Birders may encounter Mountain Bluebird, Swainson’s Thrush and Western Meadowlarks, as well as swallows, hawks, eagles, vultures and quail. If you are looking for a less strenuous option, head to the McKergow Meadows section of this trail network which overlooks Mud Lake. Over 50 species of birds have been observed in this area, including the Red-Tailed Hawk and Northern Flicker.

McKergow Meadows
 Birding
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    Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
    Vernon, BC V0E 2G0

    Just south of Vernon, on the shores of Kalamalka Lake lies this stunning provincial park comprised of grassland habitat, towering evergreen forests and a vast network of trails. Whether you are looking for a short stroll to a lakeside lookout, or a more challenging hike into historic Cosen’s Bay, the kilometres of multi-use trails ensure you have ample options. Birders should keep an eye out for the blue-listed species present in the park: Canyon Wren, White-Throated Swift, Western Screech Owl and Flammulated Owl.

 Cafe
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    Ratio Coffee & Restaurant
    3101 29th St #4, Vernon, BC V1T 5A8

    This hip coffee house is located in the historic Vernon Train Station. Serving up delicious Espresso beverages alongside a fresh and seasonal brunch menu, Ratio Coffee is a great place to start the day. Friday’s they serve up their famous donuts, be sure to get there early to avoid disappointment.

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    Boarding House Cafe
    3101 31 Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 2G9

    Vernon’s only Board Game Cafe! Stop in to challenge your friends and family to one of their many tabletop games and grab a delicious dessert or milkshake to enjoy while you play.

A nesting Osprey at Swan Lake Nature Reserve & Trails.
 Food
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    Midtown Bistro
    3024 30th Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 2B9

    At this modern and welcoming bistro, they believe in keeping things simple and then executing with perfection. You can expect a small menu, featuring fresh and local ingredients alongside charcuterie plates and a curated wine list.

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    The Med
    2915 30th Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 2B8

    A polished and refined family owned eatery proudly serving dishes that showcase the best of the mediterranean cuisine. Enjoy the warm and inviting atmosphere alongside their familiar and comforting dishes.

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    Marten Brewing Co.
    2933a 30th Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 2B8

    A buzzy craft brewery with an extensive menu featuring all the best of brewhouse eats alongside delicious craft beers and house-made Kombucha. Fresh salads stand up next to artisan pizzas and authentic tacos, with a menu this good there’s sure to be something here to satisfy.

Paddle boarders on Kalamalka Lake.
 Shopping
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    Kalavida Surf Shop
    13908 Kalamalka Rd, Coldstream, BC V1B 1Y9

    If you are looking for a human-powered way to get out and explore the region, the Kalavida Surf Shop is the place to visit. With SUP and Kayak rentals, alongside e-bikes and bicycles for all ages, whether you want to cruise the rail trail or paddle the shoreline, Kalavida will ensure you are set up for adventure.

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 Accommodations
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    Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre
    3914 32 St, Vernon, BC V1T 5P1

    This warm and inviting hotel is located close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Vernon, but feels like a country resort thanks to the incorporation of a nearby creek in their design. Enjoy a relaxing evening amongst the hundreds of plants in the garden atrium or soak in the hot tub and unwind.

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Tracing the ridge along Commonage Road.

Truly a highlight for any birder visiting the region, a drive along Commonage Road is sure to delight with its varied landscapes and the species that live here. Passing through grasslands, forests, ranches, resorts and numerous bodies of water, take your time to pull over often as you transit through this historic route to ensure you capture the abundance of the region.

Interpretive signage at Birdie Lake
 Birding
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    Allan Brooks Nature Centre
    250 Allan Brooks Way, Vernon, BC V1H 1G2

    This hilltop interpretive centre is an excellent stop to broaden your understanding of the ecology of the region. Open seasonally from April to October, the facility hosts a number of interactive exhibits and naturalist presentations to educate and inspire. Offering 360-degree views of the region, with a vantage point over grasslands and ponds, the centre is also an excellent location for bird watching. On a sunny fall day, it is not uncommon to see a number of raptors migrating through the area, while in the spring their nest boxes are host to western and mountain bluebirds, and tree swallows. The vegetation around the small pond attracts songbirds, while the grasslands host a number of familiar species.

    Book now
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    Commonage Road & Ponds
    695 Commonage Rd, Vernon, BC V1H 1G3

    Commonage Road traces the ridgeline south of Vernon and winds its way through grasslands, ranches, ponds, lakes and wooded hills. The variety of habitats lends itself to a diversity of bird species, and while the birding along this route is primarily done from the road side, it can produce some exciting sightings. A popular spot is a simple pullout along the road next to a pumphouse. The land is private and trespassing is strictly prohibited, but some time spent examining the grasslands slope may yield sightings of Clay-coloured Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Eastern Kingbirds, Say’s Phoebes, Bullock’s Orioles, California Quail and other common birds of the brush. Follow the link for a detailed overview of where to stop as you wind your way along this historic stagecoach route.

Red-winged Blackbird at Birdie Lake
 Birding
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    Birdie Lake at Predator Ridge
    77 Birdie Lake Dr, Vernon, BC V1H 1V4

    Located in the resort community of Predator Ridge, Birdie Lake features a 1km hiking trail and viewing platform from which birders may be fortunate enough to encounter the Common Nighthawk, Pied-Billed Grebe or Northern Rough-Winged Swallow. With over 100 species observed in the area, a visit to Predator Ridge is a must do for birdwatchers in the region. While you are there, drive past the gates to the Predator Ridge golf course and you’ll find Saskatoon bushes that attract Western Tanagers, Nashville Warblers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks from the nearby dry forest.

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    Ellison Provincial Park
    Ellison Park Rd, Vernon, BC

    Located on the Northeastern shore of Okanagan Lake, Ellison Provincial Park comprises forest headlands above a rocky shoreline featuring scenic views from steep headlands. This park offers swimming and diving in the day use area, and a number of hiking trails that explore the area, allowing you to enjoy the classic Okanagan Basin landscape. A number of birds can be spotted throughout the year utilizing the rocky bluff and forest habitats, with the best trails for birdwatching being away from the water towards the ridge, so be sure to bring your binoculars along for the hike.

Identifying species at Birdie Lake
 Cafe
A Yellow-headed Blackbird in Vernon.
 Food
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    The Fig
    3407 30th Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 2E3

    Community is the heart of all this local Bistro does. Serving up delicious, homemade and fresh food, their famous sandwiches make the perfect lunch to bring along for a day of exploring.

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    Range Lounge & Grill (at Predator Ridge)
    301 Village Centre Pl, Vernon, BC V1H 1T2

    Located in the resort community of Predator Ridge, this upscale casual restaurant features new age globally inspired cuisine. They prioritize local ingredients in everything they do, from their appetizers to their beverage list, be sure not to miss the creative desserts.

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    Intermezzo Restaurant and Wine Cellar
    3206 34 Ave, Vernon, BC V1T 7E2

    This fine dining restaurant specializes in European dishes as well as expertly prepared steaks and an international wine list. If you are looking for an elevated dining experience in the heart of downtown Vernon, you’ve found the right place.

Exploring the Trail Capital of BC.
 Accommodations

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North Okanagan Naturalists' Club

Committed to sharing their passion and knowledge for the natural history of the Vernon region, join one of their weekly nature walks or explore the many events hosted throughout the year.

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