With an abundance of nature all around, Vancouver is a great place to start bird watching. If this popular pastime isn’t on your to-do list, it should be.
Getting started in bird watching
The great thing about bird watching, or “birding” as avid participants call it, is that it doesn’t take a lot of equipment to do. You can practice your new hobby really any time you’re outside and it involves a lot of patience and careful observation.
Items on your must-have list for birding include:
- Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars is worth the investment for birding. You’ll enjoy this hobby so much more if the birds you’re looking at are crisp and clear. Expect to spend about $250 to $300 for a good pair that’s lightweight and waterproof.
- A good pair of ears: Hearing the birds is just as valuable, and just as much fun, as watching them.
- A field guide: Since you’re looking for birds, you’ll want to be able to accurately identify the ones you’re seeing. Popular guides include The Sibley Guide, Kaufman’s, Peterson’s, the National Geographic guide and Crossley’s.
- A bird feeder: Although birding in the great outdoors is a lot of fun, it’s also nice to attract the birds to your own backyard so you can watch them from the comfort of your own home or deck.
- A spotting scope: While not absolutely necessary for the beginning birder, if birding becomes a major pastime you’ll likely want to invest in a spotting scope so you can see birds farther away.
- A camera: It’s a great idea to capture the birds you’re looking at so you can share them with other birding enthusiasts, or even get help identifying a tricky species.
- A notebook: Birders often keep detailed records of the birds they have seen, and where.
Once you get started birding, there is a general four-step approach to accurately identify different species.
- Estimate the bird’s size and shape.
- Take note of its main colour pattern.
- Watch its behaviour.
- Remember the type of habitat you saw it in.
Great places to bird watch
The Vancouver area is popular with birders of all ages. Below, we list some great places to spot birds.
- Reifel Bird Sanctuary, located in Ladner.
- The Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver. This is the property of the Wild Bird Trust.
- Burnaby Lake Park, in Burnaby.
- Boundary Bay Regional Park in South Delta. This is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area.
- Iona Beach, Richmond.
- Provincial and municipal parks also make excellent birding locations.
- Birding apps and websites are also great resources for places to explore and things to watch out for.
Vancouver Bird Week
Vancouver Bird Week takes place May 6 to 17. In celebration of this year’s event, there’s a new book coming out to help birders (experienced and beginner) find all the best places to bird watch in BC – Russell and Richard Cannings’ Best Places To Bird In British Columbia. The book contains useful information and tips for birding, facts about the province’s natural history and the province’s best birding sites.
Visit vancouverbirdweek.ca for more information.