SEA BIRDS OF THE WEST COAST
These are by far the most common diving birds to be found off our coast. In the Oak Bay area, on Big Chain Island, their main breeding ground, is now threatened due to increasing predation by the growing Bald Eagle population.
Western Grebes are commonly found in Saanich Inlet from late August until mid May. They are mysterious birds that hunt mostly at night to capture juvenile herring that rise toward the surface to feed on krill. Arrange a spring-time tour and you can view the amazing and exotic mating dances of the grebes before they fly away to their breeding grounds.
Vancouver Island's near-shore waters are rich in a unique family of seabirds called alcids. These birds are the northern hemisphere's equivalent to the penguins of the south. Like the penguins, these birds use their wings to fly underwater and have many special adaptations that allow them to dive to great depths. Did you know for example, that our Common Mures (also birds that use their wings for underwater propulsion) can dive to depths of 180 metres!
We offer a variety of educational nature tours for bird watchers. We are fortunate that southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is home to an amazing variety of birds. Many migrating species , like some of our tourists, even find a way to stay here the year around.
Bird Varieties: Southern Vancouver Island bird watchers for example have recorded over 356 bird species , some of which are difficult to find elsewhere. Marine birds to be found off our coast include: Common Murre, Tufted Puffin, Marbled Murrelet, Black Oystercatcher, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Western Grebe. This is also an important flyway and favoured wintering area for many bird species; including loons, cormorants, grebes, ducks, shorebirds, raptors and of course, sea birds.
Birding Tours range from guided trips by kayak to trips on our motorized Giant Canoe This vessel is ideal for photography. One fun tour (for groups) is to follow up the day bird-watching with an evening meal and nature presentation.
Birding Guide: For bird tours and nature presentations we work with James Clowater. He is both a naturalist and ornithologist specializing in animal behaviour. During the winter and spring months James also gives courses on birds and educational lectures/tours in Victoria .