Learn more about the wild and winged creatures that call British Columbia home
When you think BC wildlife, chances are whales and bears top the list—and for good reason. This province offers excellent whale watching opportunities, and there are few things more thrilling than watching a black or grizzly bear in its natural habitat. Other common sightings, depending on where (and when) you travel, include bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, and caribou. And birdwatchers—both experienced birders and novices—will find plenty to keep them charmed.
This fall, see a new species in a new location and go with a knowledgeable guide for the best chance of success. Guides know where to look and how to keep the interaction safe, and they can share their expertise and take care of the planning.
Our coastal waters are home to orcas, humpback whales, grey whales, and minkes, and those are just a few of the marine mammals you’re likely to encounter on a whale watching tour in BC. Whether you leave from Metro Vancouver, Victoria, or ports farther north, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, porpoises, otters, seals and sea lions.
British Columbia’s whale-watching vessels take you to the best viewing spots, and most have an onboard naturalist who can explain the behaviours you witness, which adds to the thrill of seeing these spectacular, graceful creatures in the wild.
Close your eyes and imagine…. A mama bear exhales with a grunt, a cloud of mist escaping her snout as she leads her cubs through the stillness of a chilly, early morning. A soft thud can be heard as the ground vibrates under the giant paws of a grizzly lumbering along the shore. Or your boat rounds a corner off the coast of a remote, rainforested island along BC’s central coast, and you catch a glimpse of the elusive Kermode (Spirit) bear. In BC, these soul-stirring experiences are within reach with the help of an expert guide.
Whether it’s a trip to the Khutzeymateen/K’tzim-a-deen Grizzly Sanctuary north of Prince Rupert; an excursion to the Great Bear Rainforest, where one in 10 black bears carries a recessive gene resulting in white fur; or time spent observing black bears in the wilderness around Whistler, the adventure will remind you of our connection to the natural world.
With a prime position along the Pacific Flyway and a multitude of protected wildlife habitats, British Columbia is an exceptional place for birding. Birdwatching enthusiasts will find hundreds of species in BC’s grasslands, estuaries, mountain ranges, and rainforests, including iconic whiskey jacks, bald eagles, great blue herons, and trumpeter swans. Birdwatching can be done almost anywhere—on a sea kayak birding excursion, a tour with a professional photographer, or a guided stroll, even in an urban environment.
In Vancouver, herons gather in Stanley Park, and Queen Elizabeth Park is known for its songbirds. Take your binoculars to Delta’s Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, one of Canada’s top birdwatching sites with nearly 300 species. In the Kootenay Rockies, the Columbia Wetlands in the Kootenay Rockies, are home to more than 250 bird species. Come autumn, the rainforests and waterways of BC are teeming with life as creatures of fur, fin, and feather prepare for the winter months. So, grab your binoculars and head out with a guide to see nature on full display.